Posted by: davidalemmink | June 26, 2008

Thursday, June 26

Wow, what a day!

Last night, it rained………more than rained. Thunder and lightning …… and rain. The people of Iowa don’t need more rain. It must be a sad and difficult feeling to have so many problems with flooding and then have MORE rain. Fortunately, this morning, when we woke, it had stopped. When we got out around 7:40, we noted that the night’s rain didn’t seem to have any ill effects. Thank God!

We woke at 6:00, and immediately got moving. Our first appointment of the day was at 8:00. There was a breakfast of sorts downstairs, and mediocre coffee, but we had to share it with all the workers here to help with the flood damage. We didn’t begrudge them their breakfast, but it made it difficult. They had a long day ahead of them, and needed lots of food to sustain them through their hard labors. In speaking with one gentleman as he prepared his breakfast, I asked him about the upcoming day. He responded in a Southern accent “Well, darlin’, when we get to a site, all we see are sad faces, and when we leave, there are smiles all around.” Even though the work is hard, it is obviously satisfying.

In driving down “the strip” all the businesses were closed. We could see indications of how high the water rose, by the lines on the buildings, apx. 5 feet up. Many of the plants were dead up to the water line, and alive above …… all in a straight line. Wet sandbags all around. The soccer field was completely covered with water. We saw many people busy cleaning up, hurrying to get everything back up and running in as little time as possible.

When we got to the hospital we went directly to the 4th floor for our appointment with Dr. Iannettoni, Head of the Dept. of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Upon getting turned around, we luckily had the help of a man who was here for his one year check-up following heart transplant surgery. He obviously has spent many days and weeks in this hospital and knew his way around. Of course there were lots of forms to fill out, and David got busy. We sat and waited, and finally got called in to see Dr. Iannettoni at 8:30 or so. And then we waited some more. I thought it would get easier to wait, not so. Eventually, another doctor came in to talk to us and ask David some preliminary questions. Following this, Dr. Iannettoni came in and gave his assessment. He told us after analyzing all the test results he was uncomfortable trying to debulk the tumor (to remove all or most of the substance of a tumor or lesion). Because of the location and size, he wasn’t sure he would be able to do what we had expected. He drew us a picture on the examination table paper showing that it is located in the center with lots of blood vessels around and apparently attached to it. He had never done one that was this large and located in this particular area, and just wasn’t sure if he wanted to attempt something he had never done before. WOW, this was not at all what we were expecting to hear. I personally was prepared to stay here in Iowa City for surgery and recovery. If we didn’t get home for 3 weeks, then so be it.

Here we were again twisting and turning through this Carcinoid disease. I don’t know if it is the same with other diseases, but we have found that any time we have preconceived ideas of how things are going to go, they don’t go that way and we are disappointed. And the disappointments are HUGE! I admire Dr. Iannettoni for being honest with us and not playing God. He knows his limitations and feared that the surgery would be difficult for David and in the end would not be successful. He knew we were going to see Dr. O’Dorisio later that afternoon, and suggested to us that we see first what Dr. O’Dorisio had to say. We left that appointment discouraged and scared.

With time to kill, we headed back into the shopping area near the University. It was nearing lunch time and although we weren’t feeling hungry we wandered around and found the New Pioneer Co-op where they had a deli with delicious choices. We looked around the co-op first and then ordered our food and ate. Nothing tasted as good as expected, and I don’t think it was the food. Following lunch we wandered around the little mall (where we found a cute little yarn store called The Crazy Girl Yarn Shop) and then did some more wandering around town. Finally it was time to head back to the hospital to see Dr. O’Dorisio.

We got to the hospital and again headed up to the 4th floor, this time to Papajohn Cancer Center. Again there were forms to fill out and we waited. This wait was even more difficult. Following the morning appointment, we were disheartened and discouraged. Maybe even hopeless. Difficult to think about going into another appointment. This time, I will tell you, we had NO preconceived ideas of how things would go. Eventually, we were called in. Dr. O’Dorisio came in and we were blown away! He is an upbeat, kind and caring person. In less than one minute of our visit, I already had more hope. Hard to explain, but that’s how it was. He then proceeded to spend the next 1½ to 2 hours with us. He talked to us about the surgery, and we told him what Dr. Iannettoni had told us. He had not yet spoken to Dr. I. We showed him Dr. I’s drawing and tried as best we could to explain what he had said. He then proceeded to talk to us about the tumors, what they were like, and how because they are faster-growing than normal, it would most likely respond well to chemotherapy. He explained to us about the disease, how it is different from other cancers, and did his best to make us understand. He also wanted to start David on Sandostatin right away as he thought that would also give a good response. It felt so good to finally be feeling positive! Finally feeling positive. It’s not just because he is an excellent doctor, but also such a great person with an infectious personality.

Dr. O’Dorisio left and the nurse took David for a blood test and then came in with supplies for us to take home with us. In all, we spent over 4 hours in the Cancer Center, and left with the most hope we have had in the last 6 weeks. It was a positive experience and even though the next few months will be difficult, and I’m sure no fun, at least we have hope.

We left the hospital and came back to the hotel for a while. We then headed out to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner. We ate too much, and enjoyed ourselves and then came back to the hotel where we decided to relax, and make our plans to head home on Friday. It will feel good to be home and finally begin treatment and look forward to David returning to good health

Thank you so much for your support, best wishes and prayers. It is greatly appreciated!

Much love, Connie



  1. Connie and David,

    I just read your post tonight, stay positive, and I will see you when you get home.

    Love Linda


  2. Wow, what a great story. You are a gifted story teller. You are handling this roller coaster so well. I am so encouraged to hear hope in your “voice”.
    You are so strong. It is inspiring to see your faith through this difficult trial.
    You are handling this with so much grace.
    God Bless all of you!

  3. Ditto Laura! You said it so well!

    God is with you during this challenge. You are not alone.



  4. Very relieved to read this post tonight. Come back with renewed hope for the journey ahead.
    Love you both!

  5. David & Connie – My heart is with you right now – and thinking about your trip. I am so glad that Dr. O was so positive and upbeat about the future. Have a good trip back – and we can catch up when you return to Michigan.

    Love, Ellen

  6. Dear friends
    The blog entry I just read had the same effect on me that your day had on you. My heart sank and then it soared. We, too, are all ready for you to come home and get started!
    Safe travels home! We’re all waiting.
    Love and peace,

  7. Hey Lem,
    I’m out all next week so won’t see you when you get back. Just glad to hear the trip ended with a positive direction and some actual action taking place. All of us at work are thinking of you and pulling for your healthy recovery.
    See you after the 4th.

    God bless,


  8. We’re praying for you guys!
    Emily Vedra

  9. Not leaving when or with the results you were expecting, but the meeting with the second doctor probably made the whole trip worthwhile.

    Drive carefully, have an uneventful trip home, and let’s get started on the next phase of David’s recovery.

    Love to all,


  10. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am the bread of that life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. this is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.”

    John 6:47-50

  11. David, Just learned about your journey. We are all pulling for you here in Illinois. We’re praying for you and your family. You are all in our thoughts daily. Here’s hoping all will go smoothly and you will beat this thing. I’ll keep checking the sight. Love, love, love Aunt Nancy

  12. Hi David, After reading this, it made me think of a quote: “when one door closes, another one opens”. Your California family is keeping you in our prayers and wishing you lots of strength and love in your road to a healthy recovery.
    Hugs & kisses,
    Cuz’s Karen & Linda

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