Sunday, November 28, 2010

We count our blessings

At this close of the Thanksgiving weekend, we again would like to thank all of you for your outpouring of support and encouragement.  So many wonderful comments, cards, emails and recipes have been sent Mom's way!

The past several days have been spent "blanketing" Mary Bickford with love.  Many of her family were in town for holiday visits.  Beckworth Drive has looked like a Used Car Lot as Aunt Marge jokingly mentioned when she stopped by earlier today!

This coming week will be busy for us, with several doctor's appointments.  I will keep everyone updated as we continue to gather opinions.

We are truly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The BIG visit and some pre-Turkey Day fun

After having a very enjoyable wait at the Sisters' convent at Rose Court, we went back over to UCSF for our 4:15 pm consultation with Dr. Will Ryan.  He gave us one whole hour of his time.  He was patient, kind, intelligent, informative, supportive, .........  All in all - we were impressed with both the doctor, his staff and the Helen Diller Family Cancer Center.

Dr. Ryan had very similar opinions about Mom's cancer as the doctors here in Napa have had.  The differences were minor, however it was clear to us that the UCSF facility does have more resources than our wonderful community hospital, Queen of the Valley.

Mom's case will be presented by Dr. Ryan to the UCSF cancer board next Wednesday, December 1st.  This will be a review by many specialists in the field of cancer.  The doctor will come back to us with his recommendations.  He also suggested that we consult with their radiation oncologist, Dr. Jeanne Quivey.  We are waiting to hear back when this appointment will be.

So far, next week we have three appointments on the calendar:
  • Tuesday - Dr. Mirda; the Napa medical oncologist
  • Wednesday - Dr. Manubens; the Napa cardiologist
  • Friday - Dr. Knister; the Napa radiation oncologist 

On a fun note, today has been spent preparing for tomorrow's holiday.  Mom had her weekly hair appointment with Lisa Christianson at Shine salon downtown on Clinton St. (the site of Bertain's Napa Steam Laundry)!!
Mom and Lisa today after getting her hair done
After we got back to her house, Mom had to get baking.... preparing cakes to take to Tom's house and my house for Thanksgiving.  Her Angel food cake is the traditional cake she makes with her grandmother's special chocolate frosting!
Preparing the cakes for tomorrow!

Mom has always enjoyed a full house ..... to be expected when you have six children!  Margaret's son, Joe and my daughter, Sara have been here this afternoon visiting with their grandmother.  While Mom has been in the kitchen, they have been doing chores and playing games!

Joe watering Sara....Sara watering plants!
Not sure who is winning here - Joe or Sara?

On behalf of our entire family, we wish to express our THANKFULNESS to all of the family and friends who have shown such love and support to Mom.

We pray that you and yours, have a very blessed Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Margaret, Mom and myself left Napa about 6:10 this morning for San Francisco.  We made it down to the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Center with plenty of time to spare.  Parking was very easy - curbside, right in front of the building.

Unfortunately, there is a slight delay for our consultation.  Dr. Ryan was called into surgery at the UCSF Parnassus campus and our appointment has been rescheduled for 4:15 pm today.  The good news is that the UCSF Mt. Zion campus where the appointment will be held is only four blocks from St. Dominics and Sr. Anne!

Today is a big day for Sr. Anne as she is providing Thanksgiving meal bags to 300 families.  My daughter, Sara is with her today - volunteering with the distribution.  We stopped in to say hello and she offered to let us wait at the Rose Court convent.  How wonderful is this and how very convenient!  Mom will rest comfortably here until we head back over to UCSF about 4:00 pm.

Sitting at the dining room table at Rose Court, filling out patient forms for Dr. Mirda

I will update later this evening after we return to Napa.


Friday, November 19, 2010

UCSF - here we come ...... !!

We finally got our appointment with UCSF scheduled.  We go next Tuesday, November 23rd at 9:00 am.  We will be seing Dr. William Ryan, MD, a Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon.  This will be a consultation to hear a second opinion on treatment options.  The woman I made the appointment with was incredibly kind and compassionate.  If she is any indication of the treatment we can expect, I know Mom will be in excellent hands!

We also are waiting to hear from Dr. Daniel Mirda's office, our local oncologist.  He consulted with Mom on her Lung Cancer several years back.  Dr. Manubens, Mom's cardiologist, recommended we see him in addition to the doctors as UCSF.  We hope to get our appointment with Dr. Mirda very soon.

Yesterday afternoon we ran a few errands in town and ended with Mom getting a pedicure!

Swallowing is still painful for Mom and we were warned this would continue to be an issue.  It is very important that she maintains a nutritious diet so she will be her strongest for whichever treatment option she chooses. 

Foods that are soft, lukewarm and bland are what she prefers.

Does anyone have any suggestions for us?


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Biopsy results

Today we had two appointments; one with Dr. Colton for the biopsy and PET scan results and the second with Dr. Manubens, her cardiologist.

The good news is that the PET scan showed NO cancer anywhere else in Mom's body.  The biopsy results, however, did confirm that the mass next to her left vocal cord is cancerous.  Mom was an absolute trooper.  Her courage is amazing and a true inspiration.

Our next step will be to get additional opinions from our local oncologists and also the doctors at UCSF.  Dr. Manubens enlightened us to the fact that both he and Dr. Mirda, our local oncologist, trained at UCSF and are familiar with the facility and the staff.  This gave us all an added edge of confidence in getting their recommendations.

We expect to be making some decisions on a course of treatment very soon - please continue the prayers, we trust our faith will lead us to make the right choices.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting back to normal

Mom's pain levels really improved today so we went out for a few errands after breakfast. 

The Wellness Center at the Queen - Synergy - was re-opening after having some new equipment installed.  They were raffling off Ipods to their members.  Naturally Mom had to enter ..... :)  always interested in a chance for a free gift!  (Silently, Margaret and I are hoping she won't win - we seriously just packed up dozens of free gifts she had received or won over the years!)

The nurses in the Cardiac Rehab enjoyed seeing her, Mom had a beautiful rose for them from her yard.  She always has something for those that care for her ..... a hand made pin or rose!

After our first stop, we popped into Dr. Pappas' office to pick up some records from a prior oral surgery.  We are gathering all her records to have with us when we make the trip to UCSF for a consultation.  We are hoping that appointment will be soon.

Last stop was at Trader Joe's for artichokes - Yum!

Wanting to give people things ..... wanting to win something ..... and wanting to go shopping .... getting back to normal?  I think so!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another good day

Mom is now more than half way through the doctor's orders of voice rest!  Her pain level was low throughout the day and her blood pressure and heart rate remained consistently at normal levels.

All in all ...... she had a really good day.  I took her out for a short ride to the store about noon.  The rest of day was spent at home resting.  Margaret and I took advantage of our husbands and put them to work helping us get the house a bit more organized ..... something Mom has wanted to do for some time now.  It was actually quite fun and I think Mom is very pleased with the results so far!

She so enjoys reading all of your wonderful comments - keep them coming!!!

Taking care of business, while watching college football
(also following text updates on James' football)
Tomorrow will start with 7:30 Mass at St. A's and we might just do some rearranging in her bedroom!

Love to all,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some thoughts for the day ........

Mom has continued to express to me that she wishes that all of her family and friends that smoke, would please stop.

We now take this opportunity to bring awareness to everyone just how important this issue is!

There is an added link to the left of the daily post .....  "A message from Mary".  Please take the time to read and share this with anyone you know that has a smoking habit.

On a fun note..... she spent her typical Friday afternoon watching Jeff qualify! (he starts in the 22nd position)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

She is having trouble being silent!!

The PET Scan went smoothly today, we were in and out within 2 hours.  Mom's technician at the Imaging Center, Cyndi - was a Nascar fan!  It's amazing how many people out there are #24 Car fans, Mom has a way of meeting them all :) 

As her throat heals from the biopsy, she is forgetting about the doctors orders to remain on "voice rest".  We find ourselves entering into conversations with Mom piping up with her own comments ...... and after a few minutes ...... it's hey!!!  you are supposed to be staying quiet! ..... and we all laugh!

There is a Thursday night NFL game on tonight so maybe we can get her to sit quietly in front of the TV.  It's encouraging that she feels well enough that she thinks she can be disobedient!

Mom was a co-winner last week in her football pool, let's hope she does well again this weekend.

No events on the schedule for tomorrow.  She and Margaret hope to take a relaxing drive up valley to view the beautiful Fall colors in the vineyards.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Evening update

Mom had a real good day today.  The soreness in her throat has diminished which makes swallowing and eating much easier.

As we all can see, she is getting quite adept and using this blog!  Soon I will have her making her own posts to all of you.  Today she used Skype to visit Cathy, Sara and Kim - so much fun!

Getting the mail today
(with lipstick and pearls on!)

Good Morning

Mom had a good night and slept well.  Her blood pressure and oxygen levels are all within normal ranges this morning.

She really enjoys checking her emails from friends and family.  This is such a good way for her to communicate, especially this week while she is on voice rest.  We encourage you to share this blog site with your extended family and friends to send your best wishes.

Personal messages can be directed to her email address at
mbbickford (at) sbcglobal (dot) net 

Tomorrow, she will be having her PET scan in the morning.  This is a non-invasive diagnostic test that will  help the doctors rule out any other issues she might have.

Mom checking emails and her blog Wednesday morning, Nov 10th
  We thank all of you for your warm thoughts of love and support,


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back Home!

We made it back home about 4 pm.  Mom is such a trooper!  She certainly sets an example for all of us.

She enjoyed a nice cup of Chicken Noodle Soup and some toast for dinner.  Afterwards, she jumped onto the computer to check her email and catch up on all the latest news with all her friends and family.

Isn't it awesome that she enjoys the computer so much??  Considering she is on "voice rest" for the next week!

We have some appointments coming up over the next couple of weeks.  The first being her PET scan on Thursday morning and then some follow up appointments with Dr. Colton and Dr. Manubens next Wednesday.

Feel free to post your comments and send Mom your love and support!


The Biopsy

Hi Everyone,

Tuesday, November 9th:  After waking up bright and early; Tom, Margaret, Mom and myself arrived at the Queen at 6:00 am. Check-in went very smoothly.

Administering IV’s to Mom’s tender veins can be quite challenging, but the nurses in the surgery center were wonderful and had no problems at all! 

7:30am:  The biopsy was done and Mom came through it fantastically. It went very quickly and smoothly for her.  Dr. Colton came out and gave us all the report on how Mom did. She was very patient with us as she explained how the procedure went and all of the findings.

Following the biopsy, Mom was kept in the surgery center in order to bring her vitals back into normal ranges.

I'm here with Mom now.  We're communicating via pen and paper!  Limited talking for ONE WEEK, per doctor's orders.  This should be interesting.   :)

The doctor should be calling soon and I'll update again with the information. 


What We Know

Hi Everyone,

Just to bring everyone up to speed:

Monday, October 18th:   First visit with Dr. Benjamin Jewell.    Mom had an irritation and soreness in her throat that had been bothering her for a few weeks.   Dr. Jewell felt that she should see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor and was referred to Dr. Healey’s office.  Dr. Healey has a busy office and has just recently added a new ENT to her clinic, Dr. Joyce Colton House.

Wednesday, October 27thMom had her first visit with Dr. Joyce Colton, who performed a scope.  At this first visit she saw enough inflammation and recommended a CT Scan. 

Friday, October 29th: CT Scan.  From this scan and the scope on October 27th, Dr. Colton feels that Mom most likely has a cancerous mass in the area of her vocal chords.

Tuesday, November 9th :  Scheduled biopsy for a more definitive diagnosis. 

More updates as soon as I get them.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Hi Everyone,

Welcome to!  I thought this would be a great touchstone for all of us to Mom.  Check back regularly for status updates on doctors appointments and any other information that comes my way.   Also, please feel free to leave comments in the comment section.  You know Mom will love that!