Thank you for keeping up with Tony's status as he was battling cancer.

If you have questions to ask, add a comment to the blog, and I will be notified by email. Be sure to include your email in your comment so I can respond.

If you want to comment, and have trouble, you can always select Anonymous in the "Comment as" field and add your name at the end of your message.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

He has hair again

Sherri says his hair has grown back enough that it looks like a short haircut. He washed it today, and plans to go to worship Sunday. Sherri also said he is tall enough that most people won't be able to tell he has had surgery.

He has been playing X-box today, and is starting to get bored. He is still on medication every 6 hours, but he is doing very very well. He says reading is a bit uncomfortable, but it must not be too bad since he devoured a paperback overnight the other day.

Besides prayers for his recovery, please offer praise and thanks to our great God and Father above. He has already worked wonders for Tony, and I want to be sure that we thank Him for what He has do so far...I have.

Thank you for your support. May God bless you all.

Friday, January 30, 2009

He is back at Owasso

The staples are out, he is out of the hospital, and he and Mom are back in Owasso. It was an uneventful trip this time. We expect an appointment with the oncologist in about two weeks.

It took a car wash and four quarters to thaw the gas cap door. He now has the cleanest gas cap in the world. (you can relax now...that should be the end of the gas cap saga)

He is being dismissed from the Hospital today

The staples will be removed, and he will be discharged today. During this stay, they have figured out the combination of pain medication, steroids, and anti-seizure medicines that work best for Tony. Prilosec will be added to the mix because the steriods don't settle well in his stomach.

The plan is to come back in 2 weeks to visit with an oncologist about possible treatments.

The gas tank door is still ice-filled, and can't be opened. They are going to try and thaw it out at a car wash so they can buy gas.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's Arkansas vs Alabama

Tonight, he watched basketball with two friends. He really is feeling good, and is itching to get out of the hospital and go back to Owasso, OK. Being in the hospital has been good in one least he has had light and heat while much of the town has not.

He hasn't had any talk with an oncologist yet, so we don't know what treatment will be needed; nor do we know where it might be done.

He still has his staples in, but the incision is healing well, so they will be taken out soon. (I thought taking out staples would be painful, but we have been told it is painless)

Thanks for reading this and for your prayers and thoughts.

He might be discharged tomorrow...again

He acts and feels as if nothing is wrong. If this continues, the doctor will let him leave the hospital tomorrow. If he is allowed to leave the Fayetteville area, he wants to go back to his roommate's home in the Tulsa area. His Mom will be paying attention to make sure he is 100% before being dismissed this time.

Another little interesting detail...her car is free of ice now, but she can't put gas in it because the gas tank door won't open. There is still solid ice behind the door.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We have the tumor pathology

It is an astrocytoma, and will require radiation treatment at least and perhaps chemo. It isn't the worst kind (grade 4) but appears to be a grade 2 or 3...probably a 3. The neurologist talks as if it is very treatable, and expects full eradication of the tumor. We will know more when we see the oncologist.

His white-cell count is still high (17,000) but is steadily falling. They can't find any infection, so they believe the high count is a result of sudden withdrawal from the steroids. As he stays on steroids, the count should fall to normal.

Tony remains upbeat, is walking around the hospital to get exercise, and is reading books. All are good signs that he is recovering well from the surgery stage of this process.

Thank you for your interest in and prayers for his recovery.

Better as of last night

His temperature was back down to normal last night. I talked to him on the phone, and he sounded good. His mom is still with him.

The hospital is without power due to the ice storm in the area. Emergency power is working, but the room TV was not on emergency circuits. The nurse was thoughtful enough to find an extension cord so he could at least watch TV in the dark.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Things are better today

He feels fine today, but his body is fighting some sort of bacterial infection. His white cell count was at 22,000 today. It had been as high as 27,000 yesterday. I guess normal is somewhere below 8,000.

Several tests have been run, but the source of the infection has not been located. We are awaiting the results of a stool sample test. They want to check his spinal fluid next, but first we will remind the doctor that he has had frequent sinus problems, so the culprit may be there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We had a setback today

He developed a fever about 3AM. After talking with the nurse, the fever was knocked down with Advil. He was still hurting, and threw up later on.

About 1PM the doctor said he needed to go back to the Arkansas hospital. Unfortunately, this entailed driving 100 miles in freezing rain and mist. The two-hour drive turned into almost six hours. The last few miles were impassable in a sports car, so the nurse came and picked them up in her four-wheel drive (did I ever say we have a really nice nurse and doctor). The car is parked at a local hotel until the roads thaw.

A CT scan shows the brain to be doing well with some recovery already. The problem appears to be steroid withdrawals. Due to some sort of miscommunication, he was supposed to be taking them, but he was not sent home with any.

He and Mom will be staying the night in the hospital and another day or two until he stabilizes. A bed and chair have been set up in his room, and Mom will stay there basically round-the-clock.

A request to you guys in Arkansas...please don't get out and risk your safety trying to visit. He can't have visitors, and Sherri doesn't want anyone to get hurt trying to visit her. Please stay home until the roads thaw.

Your prayers are welcome...icy roads or not.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

He is learning the hard way

He decided he wanted to cut back on the pain medication and 'tough it out'. He tried twice resulting in two very bad headaches. His Mom thinks he has learned his lesson and will take the medicine on schedule.

Apparently he is eating very well which appears to be an improvement. Chewing had been painful in the first few days after surgery.

The plan is to have the staples removed from his incision on Thursday, but serious ice storms are predicted for early in the week. That could delay things if roads are too bad to travel on.

The two ongoing concerns are still fine-motor control in his right hand (which should improve) and diagnosis of the tumor.

Tony's current address

If you want to mail anything to Tony, here is a good mailing address.

Tony Collins
c/o Rick & Mandy Albin
12503 E 88th St. N
Owasso, OK 74055

He is doing well. I spoke to him briefly, and he sounded good, but he said talking on the phone is still tiring. I can't say I understand why, but I do accept it as it is.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Thank you to Tony's friends from church, RFC, the music department, and who knows where else. You collected money, provided rides, provided lodging, went shopping, did laundry, brought food and gifts, moved Tony out of his dorm room, and kept us company even when you couldn't visit him after the surgery. Before surgery, you helped provide an uplifting and spiritual atmosphere. RFC embraced his sister and made her feel completely welcome and comfortable. These are all things we could not have done by ourselves...if we could have done them at all.

Friends in Alaska provided meals, booked airline tickets while our power was out, took care of our dogs, provided transportation to the airport, and watched our house while we were gone.

Your selfless acts of friendship and kindness enabled us to focus on taking care of Tony while maintaining our sanity. We were able to visit Tony knowing that anything we really needed would be taken care of. As sick as this may sound, you actually made the trip sort of fun.

I know the journey isn't over, but your support during this initial and most stressful time will never be forgotten. I hope we can return at least a portion to you someday (but don't be getting any brain tumors's not worth it).

Love all of you,
Neal for Sherri, Tony, and Randi.

He is out of the hospital!!!

He was dismissed this morning, and is staying with his roommate's family. His Mom is staying with him. He can't fly for 5-6 weeks at least so Oklahoma will be home for awhile. The University allowed him to withdraw without any penalties, and they are ready for him next semester.

The bandages are off, and his hair is already starting to grow back from being cut off for surgery. he will be back to Fayetteville sometime next week to have the staples (I guess they didn't use sutures) removed from his scalp. His Mom says the incision is healing really well.

I wanted to have a celebration gathering so people could see him (since he hadn't been able to have visitors), but it didn't work out; he still tires out really fast. He will be back to Fayetteville for followup visits. Once he feels good enough, some sort of 'party' can be scheduled.

There are couple of specific things we can pray for besides his general full recovery. (1) He doesn't yet have full detail control of his right makes it very difficult and frustrating to type and use his computer. That is expected to improve over the next two weeks, but it wouldn't hurt to push it along with prayer. Until then, he might not respond to emails or be on Guild Wars. (2) We can continue to pray that the tumor be a good one that doesn't require further treatment. A final analysis is still probably a week or more away.

Thanks for your prayers and thoughts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

He is in a regular room, but please no visitors

He has been moved out of ICU into a regular room. Moving from room to room nearly wore him out, so please no visitors.

The doctor may discharge him tomorrow. If not, then Monday. If possible, we will try to have a short send-off gathering so he can say 'see you later' to everybody.

He's ready to move

A regular room still isn't available, so he is still in the ICU until then. Everything else is still good.

Thanks for keeping up with this log.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to communicate with Tony

Since he can not have visitors yet, here is what you can do to 'talk' to Tony.

Once he is moved out of the ICU and into a normal room, you will be able to text his phone, email, use facebook, chat, and probably play Guild Wars. He will be limited to 3 hours per day of computer and phone use, so he may not be able to respond.

For now, please do not call him. Talking on the phone will be something to work up to later. It causes the same problems as does visitation.

Thanks for the support you have shown him.

Tumor pathology not known yet

The tumor is not a typical one and tests have been inconclusive, so it is being referred to a specialist. It will be several days before we know more. The time delay doesn't really matter because if any followup treatment is needed, it couldn't be done for at least 3 weeks anyway. So the tumor could be a good one or a bad one...we still don't know. Please pray for a good one.

He didn't get a new room today because the hospital is full, and there were no rooms to move him to. He can probably move tomorrow.

Please let people know that he can't have visitors yet. He enjoys it so much that the excitement causes his head to throb. The medicine to stop the throbbing makes him feel bad. We will let you know when his head is up to visitation.

He should be changing rooms today

The doctors have ordered for him to be moved to a regular room. It hasn't happened yet, but should today. He is really looking good and starting to act normal as the drugs are reduced.

The physical therapist checked him out today and finds absolutely no degradation of strength between his right and left sides...HOOORAAY! He walked around the room today, and it looked perfectly normal to me.

He still can not have visitors even though he will be in a normal hospital room, but he will have his computer and phone so he can text, email, facebook, and play Guildwars. I don't think he will be allowed to talk on the phone.

He had Charlie's Chicken delivered for lunch...I guess it is better than hospital food. ; )

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Late night update

He is watching lots of TV, and walking under his own power. It really does look like everything is working well. The doctor joked that he wondered what, if anything, that part of his brain was doing.

The pain medicine has been reduced, so he is quite a bit more coherent.

We can see him again at 5:30 AM.

He's eating real food now

He will stay another night in the ICU. The CAT scan showed no bleeding, but still some swelling in the area. That is not unusual, but merits another night in ICU.

At 1PM he was sitting in a regular chair and eating a piece of chicken...all the way down to the bone...nothing left at all. He can have anything he wants now, so a friend is making a Wal-Mart run to get some of his favorites.

He is enjoying the list we keep of people who have visited and called. Thanks for following up.

He was watching a football game on TV, so that is a step back toward normal. He is really anxious to get out.

He is a bit allergic to the anti-seizure medicine he gets every 12 hours. He itches like crazy for a few seconds or minutes after the injection. We hope to mitigate that by having him on Benadryl before the next dosage.

Thanks for your continued prayers. God bless you all.

5:30 AM visit

He was asleep for most of this visit. He woke up when I slipped in, and startled awake a couple of times when different machines in the room made noises. He said he will be glad when he is off all the medication; especially the pain medication. He thinks he will be back to a regular hospital room later today.

He is hoping the tumor doesn't require any more treatment so he can fly home as soon as possible.

He did have a CAT scan last night, but we won't know the results until later this morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

They got all they could see

Some have asked, and we asked, if they got all the tumor. The answer we got each and every time we asked was, "we got everything we could see."

Next time I see the doctor, I intend to ask what is meant by the word "see." (That sounds like something a past president would ask doesn't it.)

Middle of the night update

We have noticed what we think is improvement. At 5PM, he was reaching across his body with his left hand to do things he would normally use his right for. At 9PM, he was using his right hand to pick up his drink.

He is probably getting a CAT scan about now. They will be looking to see if there is any bleeding in the area where the tumor was removed...hopefully not.

The next visitation time is 5:30 AM (still Mom, Dad, and Sister only), so probably no new info until after that.

Thank you for your prayers.

Good news from the ICU

He is resting in the ICU. He is going to be awakened every hour for the first 24 hours to check his status, so he won't get much rest.

He has normal feeling in his right side, and that is great news because we expected that side to be numb for several hours or days before it cleared up.

The main risk now is bleeding in the brain in the surgery area. The idea is to keep down on the excitement and stimulation for 24 hours so his blood pressure stays down.

His Mom and I will be staying with him tonight and through tomorrow.

He is out of surgery

He is out, talking, and moving. He will be transferred to ICU in the next hour or so. All went as expected. We won't know if it is benign or malignant for a few days, but is was a tumor.

The area of the brain affected was the sensory area, so time will tell how feeling has or has not been affected on his right side.

Please keep up the prayers.

Tony is in surgery now

It started about 11:45 AM CST. All is well so far.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Surgery tomorrow and maybe a good turn of events

The operation should be between 1.5 and 3 hours, but is expected to be about 2 hours. He will be awakened immediately after the surgery, and recovery is 3-5 days in the hospital at which point it will be decided whether he will need to stay in the Fayetteville area for followups or can stay at his Grandparents 2 hours away in Oklahoma.

The minister where he worships will be in surgery and able to keep the family updated throughout the process.

The possible good news is that the doctor spoke with some peers, and now he believes the tumor may be treatable by surgery only without chemo or radiation followup. Please keep up the prayers so we can make this tumor as easy to get rid of as possible.

It all starts with getting his head shaved at 7:00 AM CST.

Everyone is going to be there

Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, maybe Uncles, probably cousins, Mom, Dad, Sister, and special friends are all planning to be there Tuesday.

The local church and Tony's friends have been very generous in helping provide lodging and even food for the influx of family. Thank you!

The church and friends in Alaska have provided wonderful meals that we will freeze and save for later. Arrangements have been made to care for the dogs and the house. Thank you again!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tony's room

He is in Washington Regional in Fayetteville, AR room 4118 (at least that is the room for now).

Washington Regional Medical Center
3215 N. North Hills Blvd.
Fayetteville, AR 72703
Phone: (479) 713-1000

Surgery scheduled for Tuesday

The full body MRI (it was an MRI, not a CAT scan as I stated before) found no more tumors. I guess as a result of that, they decided not to do a biopsy. If there had been another tumor somewhere else, the doctor wanted to biopsy it so we would know more about what we were dealing with.

Surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for Tuesday. Tony's Mom and maternal grandparents will stay in Arkansas to be with him. Whether or not Tony's sister and I travel to Arkansas is not decided.

Tony's attitude remains upbeat and positive, and he has had lots and lots and lots of visitors, texts, emails, and phone calls. He very much appreciates the support you have given.

Please pray that the surgery will go perfectly with no collateral effects and that the tumor is benign or in some other way has no lasting effect.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our needs are currently met

Our current and expected future needs have been met. We have offers to take care of the dogs, and offers to watch the house should my daughter and I decide to go see Tony. If my daughter chooses to stay, we have offers for her to stay at others' houses.

Thanks to our good friend in California for the idea of creating this blog. It does my soul good to sit down and write about this.

Still gathering information

Tony acts perfectly healthy and has had scores of visitors to keep him busy. He is reported to be upbeat, accepting of the situation, and ready to work through this. He appears to have turned his concerns over to God.

He is in the hospital in his college town. His Mom is with him along with her parents. His roommate's family stayed with him until she arrived. Thanks goes out to them for their support while she traveled down to see him.

The doctor says he has a tumor in his brain the size of a hard-boiled egg. This was discovered with a CAT scan and confirmed with an MRI. A full body CAT scan was done today looking to see if there may be other tumors. The results are not known to us yet, but should be tomorrow morning.

The tumor is likely responsible for his headaches and the occasional numbness in his right arm. Both were attributed to college stress, but when his face went numb, he went to the hospital.

The next step is probably a biopsy to find out what kind of tumor we are dealing with. If there are other tumors, the biopsy will likely be from one of them.

Your prayers would be welcome.