Sunday, June 29, 2008


You got it, we are finally back home. How great it will be to sleep in our own beds after over three weeks, especially for Michael. It has been a whirlwind since leaving Rochester, MN. Our trip through Chicago was an unforgettable event. Spinning Nation was a great success. We have lots of info to share about the event, the total amount Team Winter was able to generate in a single 24 hour period of time, and much, much more. We have some incredible photos to share. I am sure many of you read Saturday's article in the Hearld Times about Team Winter, if not we will provide a link soon.

But for now, it is lights out. We are all exhausted mentally and physically.

Our Love,
Dawn & Kids (and Michael!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

POD #16


Plans are underway for finally discharging Michael!! The discharge could come late tonight or in the morning. There will be a lot of follow-up appointments in the near future since the second liver ablation has not been done yet.

Team Winter (the kids and Michael) have been contacted by Athletes for a Cure (AFAC) and have been invited to make a one-hour guest appearance at a fundraising event in Chicago Saturday evening. Spinning Nations is a fundraising event sponsored by Fran Drescher (The Nanny) and her Cancer Foundation (Cancer Schmancer Movement) as well as AFAC and the AIDS Research Alliance. The event is held nation wide on this Saturday. Winter and the boys will be spinning (riding stationary bike) for one hour with hundreds of other people. I am quite certain Michael's presence at this event will inspire many people and validate the reason they are taking part in such an event. Winter has been asked to tell her story in efforts to help promote national exposure about Prostate Cancer. There is talk that every dollar that the kids earn spinning will be matched by another corporation. By giving just $5.00 your gift will be doubled. Go to

There are so many ways that all of you can help to give exposure to prostate cancer. More men die of prostate cancer than women do of breast cancer. Yet, there is more exposure and awareness to breast cancer. Many of you are helping in such small ways that speak so loudly such as the blue ribbons so visible around Gaylord now. Thanks, Thanks, Thanks!

What is Spinning Nation? Go to

See You All Soon,
Dawn & Kids

Thursday, June 26, 2008

POD #15


No new changes to report on today. Michael underwent a liver biopsy on the new lesion and results are pending. The procedure was quick and easy with no complications. He is still on IV antibiotics. Life in Marriott Room #107 continues to provide all the comforts at home other than space.

Our thoughts turn to Grandma Estelle as she has a cardiac stent placed tomorrow down in Lakeland, FL. Word has it strawberries will be ready next week at the Estelle patch. The kids will be back just in time for shortcake!

Sweat Dreams,
Dawn & Kids

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

POD #14

Great Grandma Estelle & Kids

E. Coli Urine/Blood

Well, we now know what caused the fevers. He grew e. coli in the urine and now in the blood. So what does that mean? Well, he needs to be on IV
antibiotics for 10 days through a pic-line. No ablation on the liver until the infection has cleared. Tomorrow they will do a liver biopsy just to confirm the lesion is metastasis of the same tumor. We have to wait another day or two before they can place the pic-line (IV in the arm that goes all the way into the heart). Plans are still to be home sometime over the weekend. He will return the middle of July for additional tests and the ablation if all goes well. As you have seen, nothing is ever set in stone. Michael's spirits are up despite having feet that look like an elephant (it puts my patient's feet to shame). (hey that might be a good photo op).
The kids continue to do well. They are members of the Rochester Athletic Club and spend their days there. Pretty sad when my kids have become active citizens of the community. This will be their 2nd home for the rest of their life in one way or another. The assistant manager at our hotel , known to the kids as "Uncle Bill" (not to be confused with Uncle Buck) has become family.

Our love goes out to Florida where my grandma Estelle is hospitalized after having a heart attack yesterday. She is in her 90's and is one tough woman. Her cardiac cath went well and she is recovering. I told my two private nurses I might need to dispatch them to florida. (unbelievable, they would go in a heart beat if needed--as I have said over and over I am so fortunate to have such devoted friends).

Dawn & Kids

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

POD #13


Michael has been dealing with fevers the last couple mornings. Hopefully they will go away or else the liver ablation may have to be postponed. We will know more tomorrow. Michael's case has now been presented at Mayo Urology Tumor Board on two occasions. Part of the tumor stains positive for testosterone so he will be on hormone therapy in addition to chemo (yes, Depo Lupron). So don't mind his "PMS"! (ha ha)

We are all getting a little exhausted so it is to bed early tonight.

Good Night,
Dawn & Kids

Monday, June 23, 2008

POD #12

Fresh Air

Today was a day of fresh air for Michael. He made the long journey to the courtyard for sun and fresh air for the first time since being admitted to the hospital. Yesterday was a day off from the blog. The video sums it up and I couldn't think of anything to top that video. If it wasn't for the liver lesion, we would be on our way home. The new lesion that hasn't been treated yet is scheduled for ablation on Thursday. They stick a needle thru the skin so no major surgery is required.

Yesterday was a 5K race to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Myself and the kids participated. Winter took first in her age group with a 24:31 (watch out Ethan, she says you're on for the Boyne City 4th of July 5k). Ruger finished with a strong 36:00. Yukon and Magnum also ran a great race.

Team Winter is growing strong! Sounds like Meri-Jo needs a swimmer, I hope Dr "Joe" has been practicing in Naples. What better motivation to train for a triathlon than a trip to Disney. Kids and adults of all ages can participate. You don't even have to be able to do all three events. I'm thinking the Butka's better start training, they have 2/3 of a relay team. Athletes for a Cure has already contacted us trying to help us in any way possible. They are an amazing organization that will someday be as big as the Komen Foundation (breast cancer).

Back to Michael, all is stable. His chin is up, maybe by some reinforcement from friends, family and nurses (and duct tape). He is still not up to phone calls, not even from his best friends. However, he did say he is going to be calling on them when he gets home for some delivered lunches! So don't call him, he'll call you. (ha ha)

Until Tomorrow

Dawn & Kids

Sunday, June 22, 2008

POD #11

Help Fight the Fight

Start out your Sunday with this inspirational video!

Help us Fight
Dawn & Kids

Saturday, June 21, 2008

POD #10

Pain Management Day

Today brought a consult from the pain management team (anesthesia team). Pain comes in many forms, some stronger and more painful in so many different ways both emotionally and physically. Musculoskeletal back pain was the emotional and physical breaking point today for Michael. The day was extremely long and painful for Michael but things have calmed down this evening. We have a pain management plan in place for now and the future. Bowels are less swollen and discharge home is in the near future however it won't be long and we will be back out here to have a second go at the new liver metastasis that was found.

No one can say it better than Patrick, "Keep fighting...... never let your guard down.... cancer likes to sneak up on you.......until you whip it". Spoken like a true survivor.

As also said today "time to dig deep!"

Until tomorrow,
Dawn & Kids

Friday, June 20, 2008

POD #9

Delay in Discharge

Last night was the first night Michael actually got 5 hours of sleep in a row. Hurray! His pain is under much better control. Everything was set from urology's standpoint for discharge on Saturday morning, then in walked the colo-rectal fellows. They proceeded to explain the CT findings of inflamed and swollen bowel causing problems with the ostomy and said it could take 3 plus days to resolve. That really deflated our thoughts of being home by Monday. I guess that spaghetti bezor (look it up ie. fur ball) needs to come out before he is discharged home. Probably a pretty good idea. I saw intra-operative pictures of the tumor today (that were taken during his surgery 9 days ago) which gave alot of clarity and closure for me. I always like to see what I am facing. The kids will actually get to see what their dad's cancer looks like (they have been asking that question alot). Ruger's daily question is "how do you get cancer?" Know matter how many times and ways I explain it, he always keeps asking. When Michael came out of surgery the first evening he still had green dye on his skin and Rugers first response was " he still has cancer on him!" We had to explain that it was just dye to clean his skin. Michael and the night nurses have been enjoying jello shots of gatorade in the evenings. Tonight was rootbeer float night.

As for me and the kids, we are exhausted. My parents went up with us to Mall of America today. So much for any shopping. I sat and watched my kids go up, down, round and round and upside down all day until late in the evening. I think we maybe hit 10 stores total. I couldn't get Yukon out of the Apple store. It was great to see the kids so lost in fun in their own little world. Oh, to be a kid again~My kids met a great shoe salesman today at one of the stores, hopefully he is reading the blog. He was an incredible young man with a great knack to entertain kids. Who else could entertain my kids in a shoe store for 20 minutes. If you are out there "K" thanks for making my kids laugh!

I feel for my patients who are awaiting my delayed return and most importantly my partner who has picked up my slack and held the fort down for me with endless call. It is so hard for me not to be working. I am soaking in this whole mayo system of health care though. What a novel concept of health care out here amongst the corn fields. "Build it and they will come" is so true.

Michael has had his first access at the blog last night and stayed up til 1 am reading it. Need I say more.

Don't let the bed bugs bite!
Dawn & Kids

Thursday, June 19, 2008

POD #8

Spaghetti or Not, Here He Comes!

Michael is back on track! Not sure what the big set back was last night (liver or bowels), but it is gone for the time being. He ate for the first time tonight in over 24 hours. Just some chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes (gotta support those potato farmers).

As for the CT, the GOOD = no cause for the pain; the Bad= expected bowel swelling and inflammation; the UGLY= a new liver lesion in the opposite lobe was identified (will have to wait a month to reassess it and possible ablate that lesion like the previous lesion).

New names and faces continue to crop up on the blog. I have no idea how I can possibly thank each and every person who is contributing to our journey. I know one thing, each and every one of you will never be forgotten. The outpouring of hearts from the faculty and families of the kids' school (Boyne Falls) has brought so many smiles to Yukon, Winter, Mag and Ruger's faces. Athletes for a Cure and the Prostate Cancer Foundation have contacted us to help pool our resources to help Michael and the kids fight this tough battle together as a team. We will keep you informed on all their efforts.

The OB nurses can make sure Della L. has read the blog because we will be needing here help when we return. If all goes well I will be back to work first thing next week to take off where I left off. That includes my Friday lunch with the OB girls.

The Mall of America is a promised trip to the kids that will happen tomorrow. They have patiently been waiting to check it out. Now that all is stable with Michael , we can venture out a little.

Hugs & Kisses,
Dawn & Kids

POD #7 (A day late)

"Houston, We have a Problem"

You can assume that when the blog is not posted between 9pm and midnight something is up. I spent the whole night at Michael's bedside dealing with pain issues. I felt like I was back in residency again. They were unsuccessful in putting his NG tube back in to control pain and nausea. He is on his way back into the CT Scanner as we speak. They want to check the biliary tree (gallbladder and liver) as well as look for small bowel obstruction (which can be common after such major surgery). Most likely the treatment is all the same "a tincture of time".

I will update you all later today on the CT findings. For now nothing is going in Michael's mouth. And yes, the spaghetti did stay down but I'm not sure when it is going to come out.

Sending our Love,
Dawn & Kids

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

POD #6

Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti

We are testing the bowels tonight with good ole hospital spaghetti. I hope it stays down because it won't be pretty coming back up! This is the first real test of solid foods. Forget the toast, bananas, applesauce etc, here at Mayo they jump right to spaghetti. Nine out of 10 doctors here recommend spaghetti after bowel surgery.

Michael is walking 4 walks a day. Burping--yes Farting--no (for those keeping track like Renee'). Today may be the turn in the road that we were looking for. Still alot of unexplained pain so the gallbladder is still under close scrutiny.

It has been a long week-plus some so I am going to keep it short tonight. We are so blessed to have such a strong support system in place and I am sure that is why we were chosen to go thru this.

Dawn & Kids

Monday, June 16, 2008

POD #5

Bowel Strike Continues

No new news from Rochester this evening. Bowels are still on strike. Kidney function is improving after a little hiatus (Creatinine 2.5 for those interested, down from 2.8). The gallbladder looks like it may have some sludge, unsure if that might be the problem. (I knew all those useless organs should have been removed ie, gallbladder, appendix, tonsils). His spirits are still pretty low right now, I'm certain he hasn't realized how fortunate he is yet, especially when he looks around and all he sees is lines (down to 6 now) and bags. More reinforcements from Michigan will be headed in tomorrow on my side to help with morale and child-rearing. Today was "tour Toys r us" day. If someone could keep the driveway plowed of snow that would be nice! No snow here. Just 70's and flooding to the south. Anyone coming the southern route needs to think twice. Many major roads closed down around Chicago. Last group that left here ended up in Kentucky before they could get back to southern Michigan!

Hopefully I will get some new photos on the blog soon. This whole computer stuff is new to me as my friends and co=workers will attest.

We hope to blow this "Popsicle stand" by the weekend, but time will only tell.
I am still amazed the new people that this blog is finding its way to. Michael will have a chapter book to read soon.

Night' Night'
Dawn & Kids

Sunday, June 15, 2008

POD #4

Father's Day

The best part about Father's Day was, "seeing daddy" said Ruger.
The best part about Father's Day was, "seeing dad sit up, open his eyes and talk to us" said Winter.
The best part about Father'Day was, "seeing him and giving him a present" said Magnum.
The best part about Father's Day was, "seeing him smile" said Yukon.

Today was "no-jello" Sunday. He is still unable to keep any clear liquids down. The dry heaves are no fun. Jaundice (yellow color to skin) is setting in due to the ablation on the liver which is normal to see. (I wonder if they make adult size bili-blankets--a little humor aimed at my medical friends). This set-back is to be expected after someone handling his bowels for 12 hours.

I'm not sure Michael actually wished his Father a "Happy Father's Day" today. I'm sure he wanted to say it but might not have had the energy. So just in case, "Happy Father's Day". Virgil is the definition of D-A-D.

As for my Father, he was too busy working on the farm as usually, and the day slipped by without us connecting. So here it is, "I have the best dad in the whole wide world!"

Happy Father's Day Dad!
I Love You,

Dawn & Kids

Saturday, June 14, 2008

POD #3


Today was that one step back. Still unable to take anything more than just sips of water, some nausea and intestinal cramps are creeping in. He is able to walk the halls with assistance. He is getting a lot of brotherly love from his brother Rick. His sister, Brenda took the initial first few days but now returned to her family. The kids have some cousins in town to hang with, which gives them some companionship. Virgil (Michael's dad) turns out to be a great soccer goalie. We grilled salmon wrapped in banana leaves tonight for dinner. What a treat that was. The hotel has a grill for us to use out on the patio, which makes dinners easy to cook. They have a hot continental breakfast every morning including fresh made waffles, eggs, sausage etc. At 4 o'clock everyday there are fresh hot cookies out of the oven in the lobby. This Marriott Springhill Suites ROCKS.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a step forward. After all, tomorrow is Father's Day.

Good Night from Rochester,
Dawn & Kids

Friday, June 13, 2008

POD #2

Sorry the updates come so late at night. I like to have a good perception of how the whole day goes before I comment. Today was "change of shift day". His two private nurses from Michigan, who came out the night before surgery, will be on their way out. In their replacement, comes in his best two guy friends from Michigan. Their first words to Michael were "we are here to get you out of bed! Time for morning exercises!" And that is exactly what they did. They had Michael walking the halls three times today, whether he liked it or not. Doctors Orders!! Michael was able to stomach two cups of juice and we are looking at jello by Sunday. The 5 o'clock shadow is now settling in and it is either a dry shave by the "boys" or Virgil's (Michael's dad) electric shaver (the kids hate dad with a picky face).

The kids continue to scout out and find new parks around the area. Today was a little soccer, football and basketball. The kids are getting very skilled at putting puzzles together. Every waiting room in the hospital has huge puzzles to put together. I still am reaching for my waist every time I hear a pager or cell phone go off. I'm not sure how long it takes for that instinctive reflex to go away.

Path report: All lymph nodes negative for malignancy (cancer):
Tumor margins negative:
The liver will be re-imaged in a few days and again in a month to see if any further treatment will be needed. Most likely, chemo in a month.

Everyday when I read the comments I am blown away at the people that I am hearing from. It is like a blast from the past. Some people I have not seen or heard from in 15-20 years (same for Michael). Hopefully a few more days and Michael will be able to read the Blog. He has a lot of catching up to do.

We miss all of our dear friends. We appreciate all the "reinforcements" that keep filtering out to Minne"soooda" (as my kids have learned to say). They come not only for Michael, but the kids, myself and for Michael's parents.

Keep the home fires burning for us!
Dawn & Kids

Thursday, June 12, 2008

POD #1 (Post-operative day #1)

Today started out a little groggy for Michael due to all the pain medicines but by evening he was able to talk to the kids a little. The ng (naso-gastric) tube is out, 7 more tubes and lines to go. Michael was a little to lightheaded to get out of bed, but did manage to brush his teeth twice today. Hopefully, he will be up in a chair tomorrow. The kids are doing great, they are full of energy and are good for about 14 hours going at 50mph before they start to shut down. Just dragged them out of the pool now for a good nights sleep. It only takes seeing their dad for a minute to reassure them that dad is ok. Hopefully a few more days and Michael will be able to read the blog for the first time.

Love Dawn & kids

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Recovery Room

After an unbelievable 12 hours in surgery, Michael is out of the OR and on his way to recovery. Yah, there will be alot of hurdles over the next 6 months but none as great as today's. A new chapter now opens, one of healing. The kids gave their dad the first kisses tonight and though there was not much in return for them, I'm sure their presence was felt. The kids had bets on how many lines (tubes) dad would have coming out of the OR, their coping skills are amazing. If only we could cope as well as them. Michael is stable and tucked in for the evening and so are the kids. I can hardly wait until Michael is able to view the blog and the outpouring of love that has come in from across the United States. Technology works miracles in ways I never imagined.

We are so Blessed

Dawn Estelle (Yukon, Winter, Mag and Ruger)

A Word From the OR

We are now 8 hours into Michael's surgery and I have had a chance to talk to both of the main surgeons (urology and colo-rectal). News from the OR (operating room) is very good. Although the tumor has grown to approximately 11cm, they were able to remove it and preserve his bladder. He will have a temporary colostomy for 4-6 months, however they will be able to reconnect things to allow normal bowel function at a later date. They are currently working on the liver as I am typing. The lesion is also slightly larger than previous but the plan stays the same at this time, to do high frequency ablation thru a needle in the liver. The doctors figure 3 more hours of surgery as we speak. Michael could not be in better hands. These surgeons are incredible!

Your comments have been overwhelming!
Dawn Estelle

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Well, today was another long day filled with doctors appointments at Mayo Clinic, all in preparation for tomorrows surgery. It looks like it will be an early start in the morning with us arriving at the hospital at 5:45am and hopefully an 8:00am surgery start time. The good news of the day today was that the liver metastasis will be treated with high frequency ablation instead of actually removing a portion of the liver. The surgery could not come any too soon as the cancer is taking a toll on Michael, both mentally and physically. He is literally counting down the hours. I would anticipate sometime tomorrow afternoon we will update you on the surgery outcome. We have lots of love and support for both Michael and the kids, thanks to friends and family traveling great distances. What more could we ask for.

Good Night,

Dawn Estelle

Monday, June 9, 2008

Why a Blog?

By now many of you know Michael was diagnosed on his 40th birthday with a very rare, aggressive form of prostate cancer. Unlike the more traditional form of prostate cancer that affects many men after the age of 50, this cancer is much more difficult to treat. There are very few cases of this type of cancer reported in the medical literature (probably less than 100 cases), especially in men Michael's age. This type of cancer is called "Sarcomatoid Carcinoma of the Prostate". His diagnosis came early in May 2008, after being seen by the Urology Dept. at the University of Michigan. A week later we found ourselves at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for a second opinion. Michael took a liking to the surgeons there and liked their attitude, "let's get this thing out". The surgeon's nickname in the operating room is "Commando", "he takes things out that most doctor's won't tackle" said his peers. That's the type of Doctor I would want to take care of me. So here we are two weeks after our initial consult, back out at Mayo, ready to tackle this cancer head on with some of the best help in the world. Michael has already received the unfortunate news that this cancer has already spread to his liver. We will find out tomorrow if this metastasis will be able to be removed with surgery. Michael's surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday, June 11th. The surgery will be 6-8 hours long and have up to 4 surgeons trying to remove this tumor. The tumor is next to bowel and bladder as well as involving the prostate. There is a good chance that these surrounding organs will need to be removed to provide the best possible long term survival in order to gain control of this cancer.

The purpose of this blog is to help keep all of our family, friends and co-workers as ACCURATELY informed as possible. We will try and provide daily updates for the next several weeks. We know many of you have Michael and our family in your prayers and appreciate all the support, in so many different ways, that all of you are providing our family. Please pass this blog site along to others to help keep everyone informed and follow Michael in his Journey.

Dawn Estelle