Monday, October 31, 2005

Susan's Monday Morning Report

Yesterday Dan's sister Kate drove him to the cancer center for his daily blood workup and neupogen shot so that I could have a little break and remind myself that Sunday mornings were meant for a good cup of coffee and a voluminous newspaper. Unfortunately for Kate, Dan needed an IV of potassium and magnesium and the short visit turned into a 3 hour stay at the clinic. I, of course, worried to no end as I waited for them to return. She will be driving Dan to the clinic this morning to give me another break. Dan's numbers continue to move slowly upward, although he constantly exclaims how totally exhausted he is. Patience I tell myself, patience.

Sunday was not to remain just numbers, doctors and worry however. Our friends, the Neenans arranged a most precious visit. A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Medjugorje, Yugoslavia is now in our family room and she will be with us for several days. This is one of 10 replicas of the statue that permanently resides in Medjugorje, although this is the only one that travels. There is so much to be said but words cannot do justice to the experience. She is 8 feet tall, has the most wonderous face and seems so filled with devotion, intention and prayer that to be in the same space with her is extraordinary.

Carl, who is responsible for the Vactican making and delivering her to Colorado, sees transporting her to wherever she is needed as his ministry. He asks only that a rosary be said daily. Catherine, Julia, Kate, Nancy and Jim Neenan, Dan and I said the rosary yesterday and felt overwhelmed by the peace and grace of the moment.

To me this is such a gift. Since Dan became ill 7 months ago, the only solace I have found has been in the rosary and the hundreds of Hail Marys I've said to calm myself down when things felt so bleak. I look at her now in my family room and believe in the power of prayer. She will leave on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, if you would like to see her, please call, as we would love to share her. Love, Susan

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Counts Continue to Rise

8 a.m. visit to the clinic. white cells and platelets continue to rise slowly; neupogen shot to keep boosting the white cell production. Energy waxes and wanes. My sister, Kathy, arrived this morning. How nice to have her here. She will help spell Susan from the 24 hour monitoring (although I think I may be interesting it must be so boring to have to watch me all day). I feel we are on the road to recovery. My cousin Rich understates our summers and time together. Every summer he visited us for a week and I got to spend a week with his family on the other side of the state. I felt like he was another brother of mine, and still feel that way. We played baseball, whiffle ball, went to the swimming pool and hung out together. I have fond memories of great summers spent with Rich and am glad he has figured out this blogging thing. My love to all, Dan

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Update

I know how upset you bloggers get when there is no report from me, so here is today's report. I saw my doctor this morning (as an outpatient in the clinic--how nice) and had blood drawn and received another neupogen shot. My counts continue to rise. My white count is now at 1.5 (normal being about 3.9 to 8), and my neutrophils are now at 1000 (not sure what normal is but I am considered no longer neutropenic when I have 2 consecutive days of 1500. I should get there in a few days.) We have daily visits to the clinic for the next few days for blood draws and shots, but that should lessen over the next few weeks. I asked the BIG QUESTION today, which is, do we know how effective the melphalan was in getting at my myeloma. The answer is no, and we won't know for another 60 to 90 days when they will do more bone marrow biopsies to see the degree, if any, of myeloma cells I still have. Those test results will, of course, dictate the future course of treatment or nontreatment. Surprisingly, the 60 to 90 day wait period feels good to me. I look at it as a time to get my energy back, get off all the drugs I've been taking, and to start feeling better. This disease has forced me to learn to let the future take care of itself and to live for the day. So that is what I hope to do for the next 2 to 3 months, one day at a time. And finally, don't you just love those SOX! Thanks again for all the good cheer. (oh, and Mike P.--I have yet to see elk steaks as a recommended food for cancer survivors, but then what do those nutritionists know anyway)
Love, Dan

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Just saw my doctor and he gave the choice to go home today or tomorrow. Hmmmm. Not a difficult choice. I will be discharged this afternoon. Counts continue to move upward. For the biologists among you bloggers, my neutrophils are at around 530, white cells .7, platelets 28 and hematocrit (red cells) 25. The hematocrit number is the threshhold for transfusion so I am currently receiving 1 pint of blood and will receive another later this morning. This is entirely expected. My energy levels continue to be very low, but being home will be great. We will continue to keep you advised over the next weeks/months through the blog. I can't say it enough: thank you everyone for all your prayers, support and love.

My sister Kate (Kathy) will be arriving on Sunday to help around the house as I will need close to 24 hour care for the first few weeks until my counts get back up to better levels. THat will be nice since I haven't seen her in a few years.

And aren't those White Sox something else? What a team. Houston just couldn't hit those White Sox pitchers. and those 2 last outs by Juan Uribe were something. Many of you may not know that he was once a Colorado Rockie. In typical Rockie's fashion, since he was such a fine player, we traded him.

Finally, my "brother Ted" and his son, "the other Ted" have begun work on the hardcopy book. They have asked once again that each of you bloggers send him your picture, either digitally via email, or hard copy via regular post. Ted's address is Ted Bettridge, 4296 Grove St., Denver, CO 80211. Photos that come through email should be in a JPG or JPEG format.

Love, Dan

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Gratitude and Going Home

Almost 7 weeks ago Susan and I met with my Dr. and reviewed with him, in detail, the informed consent for the two regimes of chemotherapy I was about to receive in the next month, as well as the stem cell infusion. The documents exceeded 10 pages, and my doctor reviewed each side effect in detail. Leaving the doctor's office that day, both Susan and I agree, was one of the low points of these past 7 months. And, while the option of "not having the procedure" was written on the document, Dr. Rifkin was quick to point out that was not really an option in my case. So many potential side effects, many of which can be fatal, and the absolute guarantee that I would get some of them but most likely I wouldn't get them all. I was scared. Susan was scared. When they delivered the first bag of chemo on Oct. 10th, I braced for the worst. We are 2 1/2 weeks from that last high dose chemo and stem cell infusion and my course, although not free of side effects, has been smoother than we ever could have hoped. Thoughts are very powerful, directed prayer is even more so, and love is the most powerful of all. You have all given of yourselves to bring healing and health to me and my family and we are so grateful for all you have done. I humbly acknowledge that my good course these past weeks is beyond anything I could have done by myself. Thank you.

My counts continue to rise (neutrophils are at 290, white count at .4)and my doctor says I will likely be discharged tomorrow or Friday. I am so excited to be going home. We are not out of the woods since I will continue to be immunosuppressed for some time, and I will have to continue on the strict diet, and limit contact with anyone or anything that might have bugs. I will have daily visits to the clinic for awhile, for blood work and a quick exam to assure I haven't picked up anything. But we are now on the road to recovery.

And finally, don't you love those Sox! It is their year. Susan's cousin Arlene, who lives in New York, managed to find Katie Kirby, White Sox PR Director, through the internet and email and apparently told my story to Ms. Kirby, who then posted on the blog. Arlene you're terrific.

Love, Dan

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Counts Are Rising

Neutrophils have gone from 15 to 128, white count from .1 to .2, and platelets from 18 (thousand) to 26 (thousand). Red cells continue to go down. Hematocrit (a measure of red cells) is now 25.5. they will transfuse if I get to 25. Unless the reds turn around today transfusion will happen tomorrow---but is no surprise. I was told I would need red cells as well as platelets. It actually looks like I may not need platelets as they transfuse those when they get to 10 (thousand) and I am trending up rather than down. The low red cells also provide some explanation for the fatigue I've felt in the last few days. But I've no complaints. The process is working and I am hoping to be home this weekend. Finally will the person who contacted the Rocket Man please come forward? I'm dying to know who has such influence. Love, Dan

Monday, October 24, 2005

The White Sox Visit the Blog!

WOW. I just discovered a posting on the blog from Katie Kirby, director of public relations for the White Sox. Check comment by Rocket Man after my GO SOX posting. I know some Kirbys from growing up in Dickinson, North Dakota, but don't remember a Katie. Anyway, Rocket Man, however you learned of this blog, welcome and thank you for the kind words. Like so many others, I've been waiting 46 years for my team to win the Series. THe entire bone marrow unit here at the hospital knows of my allegiance to the White Sox, and I must admit your winning has been very therapeutic for me. I will focus on getting better, but I can still send good karma to my team. so....GO SOX! I'm with you all the way. Dan

Slowly Turning the Corner

My doctor has already been in to see me this morning and reports that I now have 15 neutrophils (yesterday was 0) and my platelets went from 16 (thousand) to 18 (thousand). can't remember what the while cell count was, but no matter. We are now turning the corner as my body is now starting to produce its own cells. Now we wait for the numbers to rise and when they get to a certain level, I get to go home(I think I need 50 neutrophils and not sure about white count or platelets). Yesterday was a rougher day as I was so totally and completely exhausted and then got nauseous. (sp?) But I'm feeling better today and am greatly encouraged by the begining of the production of cells. As Dr. Rifkin said this morning: "you're doing awesomely." Looking forward to counts rising and going home, maybe in a week or so. Dan

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Ah, what a great game, not the least reason being that the Sox won. But I understand it's a 7 game series. In typical Bettridge fashion, after calling for ChiSox paraphenalia, Ted and his brother Dennis, appeared in my room yesterday with a ChiSox hat, pennant, 1959 baseball cards, and a 1959 baseball program. They now adorn my room and declare to the world I am a ChiSox fan. What fun! THe Bettridge hearts are huge! thank you Ted and Dennis.

My counts are still at essential 0 (neutrophils--0, white cells--.2, platelets--16). So we wait for engraftment and cell growth. Dr. Rifkin thinks this will be soon as my platelets drop is slowing and there are now some monocytes in my blood, which mean something to him and nothing to me. Still feeling about the same with a little more fatigue. Julia spent yesterday with me working on a term paper. How nice just to spend the day with her.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday Morning

Good Morning everyone. It's best that you are all up early and get your errands completed so you can settle in for this evening's White Sox v. Astros game. I picked the White Sox as my team when I was 7 years old and they had just won the American League pennant. They lost the series to the Dodgers and have not been back to the World Series since. It's about time!

My counts are still at the bottom (0) so not much news. We're hoping that maybe tomorrow we see an uptick. In the meantime, I continue to do well. Julia is home for the weekend, which is nice. She absolutely loves Colorado College. although if I didn't know better I might be questioning whether she is doing any academic work: she has joined 6 intramural sports teams. I don't know how she finds time to study, but she does and is doing fabulously on the academic front as well. Catherine will probably also be home this weekend to see her sister, but not me, as she is fighting a very bad cold.

Big Mike--you really fooled me. We often refer to my oldest brother as "Big Mike" and so when I saw the post a week or so ago from "Big Mike", I thought it was him. Yesterday's post about the interviews confused me as my oldest brother is closer to receiving Social Security than looking for a job with Citigroup. It took me awhile, but now I know you're true identity. (My big brother is stuck with his joke name "Mrs. Joshwick") How nice of you to join the blog. I wish you the best of luck in your interviews and have no doubt that you will receive many many job offers. Have some fun whle in NYC also and let me know how things went in the interviews. Dan

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Project

Hello everyone. My sons and I have in mind a project that will capture the notes and the healing energy that all of you have put into this blog. We would like to create a book using your comments. We would like that book to contain a photo of each person who has contributed a comment to the blog. If you have not posted a comment and would like to submit a comment and your photo we would welcome those submissons too. Whichever catagorey you fall into please submit a photo and/or comments to or send via land mail to Ted Bettridge, 4296 Grove St., Denver, CO 80211. Photos that come through email should be in a JPG or JPEG format.

As Dan has told you, your daily postings are a tremendous part of his healing process. Thanks to all of you and I look forward to receiving your photos and/or comments. By the way I have solid information from an inside source that Dan's favorite baseball team, since he was a kid, is the Chicago White Sox. His room could use a little decorating for the upcoming series. A jersey, a cap, you get the idea.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday's Update (finally)

How sweet of all of you to be concerned about no update. The delay is due to my internet being out for the last 24 hours. As much as you love to check the blog daily, I must confess I check it more regularly than that and have felt so isolated without my internet. In fact, my doctor saw me this morning and asked at the end of his examination, as he asks every day, "so what's bothering you most today?" Well, this morning I told him my biggest problem is "I have no internet". Unlike with all of my other complaints, he said he wasn't sure he could help me with this one. But, we're back on line. I am still doing OK, although I'm quite exhausted. I do still manage to do some exercises daily. This morning I did 20 minutes on the exercise bike in my room and also some upper body strengthening with a flexband. I then promptly went back to bed and slept for an hour. My white count and neutrophils are now very low (neutrophils are 2). So, we are now waiting for regeneration of my cells. My love to all. Dan

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday 10/19/05

Everything is about the same as yesterday, except the counts are closer to 0. Still feeling about the same--I'm doing OK. We are at Day +6, which is 6 days after transplant. Being bored,I have been told,is a good thing under these circumstances. I think I'll try some books on tape today. Dan

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Primer in Neutropenia

A primer in what, you ask? neutropenia, a condition in which the body's neutrophils are too low. Neutrophils are the main type of white blood cell that fights infection. The high dose chemo that I received will kill all my bone marrow, which is what generates the blood cells. The stem cells I received last week will regenerate the bone marrow and the blood cells. The neupogen shots I started receiving today help stimulate new cell growth. So, until the new stem cells generate new bone marrow and cells I currently have no immune system. My neutrophils are below 200 (normal I think is above 1500) and my white cell count is .2, normal being somewhere around 3 to 7, I think. As a result until my white cell count and neutrophils increase I am at significantly increased risk for infection. Hence, my roaming privileges around the hospital have been severely curtailed and I must where a mask whenever I leave the room. But, I still feel pretty good, a bit more tired, but all in all, still OK. So that's the status this Tuesday morning. Dan

Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday morning

still doing OK. White counts and platelets are dropping as they should. Expect they will hit bottom in a few days. Start neupogen shots tomorrow to stimulate cell growth from the new stem cells, which should occur some 7 to 10 days later, and which will then bring up the white counts. Side effects more likely to hit as counts drop. Thank you Ingrid for the wonderful connection to Tuscany. We have certainly missed what we hoped would be an annual September trip to Italy, but your post gave us focus that we will be there again next year. Love, Dan & Susan

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday Morning

Good Morning everyone. We are now at day 7 and I'm still doing OK. My counts started to fall yesterday (I don't know what they are today yet), but as they fall I suppose my energy will drop. But so far,so good. Brother Mike left early this morning after visiting for 6 days and helping around the house. My mother will be leaving later today. My family has been tremendous during this difficult time. I have so enjoyed the new faces that continually pop up on the blog. I have realized that even if no posts are made, many of you are checking on my progress on a regular basis. You are the greatest. My wish for you today is that you receive a taste of what you have given me and have a wonderful Sunday. Love, Dan

Friday, October 14, 2005

Morning Update 10/14/05

I misdated my last update. sorry. Today is Friday. right? I continue to do well. Transplant went without a hitch and now we wait for the ruckus to begin (white cells and platelets to go down and my stem cells to start regenerating good cells, and the side effects from the high dose chemo should start any day now). Susan took photos of the whole experience. I'm a bit tired but feel pretty good otherwise. You all continue to overwhelm me with your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. I am so humbled by this entire experience and wonder what I could possibly have done in my life to deserve such a wide network of family and friends with so much generosity, compassion, and love. thank you thank you thank you. Love, Dan

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Morning Update 10/14/05

Things are proceeding as expected. My red cells dropped last night and so we started the red blood transfusions. I am currently receiving my second pint (no not of guiness, alas). after that they give me the preliminary drugs to help with the stem cell infusion, which will occur sometime around later morning. they are giving me back 10 million of my 22 millions cells harvested. no magic about the number other than its about half of what they collected and they want to hold on to the other half for a potential second transplant (we won't go into that now). The stem cells are stored frozen in a wood preservative which has a distinctively unpleasant odor--mainly to visitors, as my body is so saturated with it, I supposedly can't notice it. I am expecting the side effects of all of this to start creeping up on me and the next few weeks to be pretty crappy. But for now I'm still doing OK. Having this blog site is so great! It is such a pleasure to be hearing from my long lost North Dakota friends. What a group. after years and years of limited contact they are coming out in droves of support. As Susan has said many times, "you can take the boy out of North Dakota, but you can't take North Dakota out of the boy." These friends reach back into grade school days and span into some college roommates. This class of mine connected long ago and we have never lost the connection, no matter how long the separation. THanks for everything,every one of you, from my friends from first grade, to our new neighbors we just met last year. My brother Mike, who now lives in Texas, and my mother, who still hails from North Dakota are here visiting and that is nice. We have put Mike to work cleaning our garage, a job he willing took on. Tom was here a few weeks ago and painted and cleaned windows. What great brothers I have. My love to all of you. Dan

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Morning Update

Feeling a bit better today. Just an initial reaction to the second high dose chemo, I suspect. I would still appreciate a call before visitors come today and tomorrow to make sure I'm still doing OK. My cell is 303-907-3546. Today is looking kind of busy so far, so tomorrow may be a better day, provided tomorrow's activities don't hit me too hard. Tomorrow I get my stem cells back and begin with the neupogen shots again to stimulate bone marrow replacement and cell growth. Other than the red cells, my counts are still in the normal range so we have some dropping to do on those fronts before regrowth will occur. I suspect, however, given the red cell counts that those transfusions will start either today or tomorrow. Thanks again for everthing. I can't say it enough how important it is to me during this time to be receiving your love and support. It truly does keep me going ... and going.... and going.... LOve, Dan

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Evening update

Dan is running a slight fever and he is feeling tired. PLEASE NO VISTORS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.


Dan doesn't reccomend SLP for your next vacation. There is no view of the ocean and the rooms are a little cramped for the amount of money you are paying. Service is not too bad. He received his first injection of melphalan yesterday. It was preceeded by anti nausea medications. He will receive his second shot this afternoon. He is receiving visitors but please call ahead.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Transplant day is just around the corner. I am ready. We are naturally a bit nervous but understand that this next step is necessary and are thankful it is finally here and that I have not found any more detours to delay the day. We have been deluged these past few days with calls, visits, cards and phone messages and are so thankful for all of you. Long ago, on our wedding day, Susan and I told each other that we wanted to share the love we have for each other with the friends we made along our way. While we hope we have been able to do that, these past weeks and months, all of you,our friends and family, have turned the tables on us and have given us so much love and support that we are filled with deep gratitude for the blessings in our life. You have given me strength and resolve. thank you so much and please stay in touch. I love you all. Dan

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Yesterday the cancer institute called with news of Dan's bone marrow biopsy. I was so sure the cytoxin had caused the myeloma to evaporate that when we heard the numbers were higher, I had to catch my breath. Such a disease, it never seems to give you a break especially when you're sure one is in the offing. I tried to keep it in perspective but that lasted about 15 minutes. I was comforted by the patient who always seems to call up some huge resevoir of strentgh no matter the news.

And then the day was filled with phone calls, visits, food, books, mail, music, email, hugs,lots of I love you's and a huge recognition that it has been 6 months and you are all still there with us. You haven't tired of the journey and your constancy encourages and supports us. Bless you for you are angels disguised as human beings. I will be forever grateful and I will find that place again that believes all is possible. Love, Susan

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


First of all let me say that all of you are wonderful. The outpouring of love for Dan and the positive energy that you are sending his way is doing so much to get him back to the life he had before cancer sent him down this detour. If you have looked at the schedule that was first posted you are aware that Dan will enter the hospital on or around the 10th of October. This phase of his treatment will involve the infusion of healthy stem cells into a vein, they will find their way to his bone marrow, where they will produce new blood and immune cells and replace the cells destroyed by the treatment. Before the transplant is done, Dan will receive high-dose chemotherapy to destroy his diseased cells.

Although Dan is allowed visitors while he is hospitalized, given the uncertainty of how sick he may be and what side effects he may be dealing with, we will be posting regular (daily if necessary) messages regarding his health and whether he would like visitors. Please check the blog site the day you are planning to visit to assure he is in a condition to receive visitors. Thanks

Monday, October 03, 2005

October 3, 2005 bone marrow biopsy

Today I get a bone marrow biopsy to determine the effectivenss of the cytoxin in attacking the cancer cells. I also will be getting my second hormone shot of Lupron to continue to contain (and hopefully shrink) the prostate cancer. The shot lasts 4 months. No other activity scheduled this week.