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UPDATE - 21 March 2003

It is with great sadness that I write this update. David passed away peacefully on Friday, 21st February 2003 at the Cottage Hospice after a 6month battle with his brain tumor.

David was taken to emergency on Fri, 24th Jan will severe headaches. Throughout the day David had received many doses of morphine, which wasn’t helping the pain. Once in Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital Emergency, David had a CT scan. In the early hours of Sat morning, David vomited, inhaled his vomit and stopped breathing. The CT scan showed that David had excess fluid/cyst (in a cavity) on the brain (the tumor was blocking the value which normally gets rid of the excess fluid on the brain). An emergency operation was done to put an external drain into the fluid cavity to release the pressure. They then moved him up to Intensive Care. A few hours after the first operation, the doctors said that the drain was blocked and had to do another operation to move the drain tubes to another location. That operation was successful and was draining well. A day later that drain stopped draining fluid and David had another CT scan. This time it showed two areas (cavities) where fluid was building up. David underwent another operation to put a second external drain in. After three operations, they were all draining well.

David was in intensive care, sedated and on life support machines. The worst news of all is that sometime while David was in emergency, he had a massive stroke on his left side of the brain. The doctors told us on Sunday (26th Jan) that David probably had 48 to 72hours to live as the swelling that would be caused from the stroke would create too much pressure in the brain and eventually cut off his vitals (breathing etc).

David was always very strong and determined and it especially showed at this time. The doctors were constantly measuring the pressures in is head, waiting for it to go extremely high as they predicted. David’s pressures stayed on the high side, but constant and stable and he made it through the 24, 48 and 72hour mark. This amazed all the hospital staff.

Slowly each day we saw improvements in him, moving his left arm slightly, squeezing your had and scratching his stomach. The amazing thing is that he was able to move both his left side and right side of his body (arms and legs) when we were told the stroke he had would have affected the right side of his body. Over days, David started to do purposeful movements such as reaching for the tubes in his mouth and nose to pull them out (which he successfully did on one occasion!) The progress in him was extremely slow but at least it is progress. Once the doctors saw David had some progress and did purposeful movements, they decided to put in a shunt (operation #4) which is an internal drain from the fluid in his head to his stomach.

David ended up in Intensive Care for 14 days improving a little each day. And was eventually taken off the breathing machines/life support. So David would be more comfortable they put a tracheotomy in his throat to keep his airways open and protected and so when he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be stressed with a tube in his mouth, down his throat.

After 14 days he was moved to the High Dependency Unit on the Neurology Ward. Still under constant care. While in Intensive Care David picked up an infection in the lungs, this was not going away and was getting worse. The respiratory doctors were called in to have a look at his lungs. David had a CT scan of his chest which showed many things – partially collapsed lung on one side, part dead lung on the other side, and a lot of build up of fluid. The doctors told us that they could not fix his lungs. The lungs were getting worse each day.

It was decided after much heartache and discussions with many doctors and family to put David on to Palliative Care (care for the person, treat minor infections, keep them comfortable and out of pain, let nature take its course). He was moved to his own room and “active” treatments/operations were stopped. The worst decision of our lives. Nothing can describe the pain and suffering we went through making this decision.

David stayed in palliative care at the hospital for a week, then was moved to the Cancer Cottage Hospice, where he spent his last 4 days. The cottage hospice is a wonderful place, designed for cancer patients who need palliative care. The care he received was 1st class – he would have loved it!! They even brought the trolley around each Tuesday night for happy hour! If only he could have joined in…

Friday morning, 21st Feb at 9.30am David passed away peacefully surrounded by those who loved him the most, his mum, dad, sister and girlfriend. He was not suffering, he was in no pain, just very slowly stopped breathing.

The funeral took place the following week, on the 27th February and was so lovely. Over 200 people came to say goodbye to him and we all know David would have loved it. His favourite music – The Dave Matthews Band was playing, and all the people that meant the most to him were there.

Thank you to everyone who have supported us over the past six months. David couldn’t have done it without you – and neither could we. We will always remember the kind, generous people who helped us out. It is appreciated more than you will ever know.

David will now live on in all of us, his strength, his courage, his humor. But most importantly his love.

Please leave messages for Dave's family by signing David's guestbook
Check out pictures of the Stephen's family and friends in the Photo Album





UPDATE - 27th January 2003

David was taken into Emergency on the 24th Jan, 2003. David was suffering from extreme headaches and after several operations he now resides in intensive care at hospital.

The next few days are very important for David, he needs everyones support! Please keep David in your thoughts and prayers.





UPDATE - 18th December 2002

MRI scan results are now in! Praise the Lord! Another miracle is unfolding.

The doctors in Houston have analysed the MRI scans that were taken on 9th December and have said that the tumor has not grown since the last MRI scan in October. They have found an enhancement in the cavity where the operation was performed which is thought to be dead cells, not active tumor cells! The next MRI scan is scheduled for another 4 weeks.

Thank you for all your prayers, as you can see, it's working!






UPDATE - 5th December 2002

We have been back from Houston for four weeks now and have been administering the antineoplaston treatment at home. David is coping with the treatment really well. This is such a hard treatment and we are all very proud of how he has been handling it - not to mention all the other ‘complications’ he’s had along the way!

This treatment is administered by an IV pump every four hours for 2 hours at a time (24hours a day/7days a week). Each dose consists of two IV bags. Bag 1 (large bag) runs for approx 1.5-2hours and it breaks down the tumor. Bag 2 (small bag) runs for approx 10-15mins and it kills off the broken down pieces of the tumor. We increase his dose each day and are trying to get to maximum dose (460/60) which is what he’ll stay on until the tumor is gone.

There have been little hic-cups along the way. He has been experiencing side effects of the anitneoplastons (fluid retention, tiredness, thirsty), side effects of the tumor breaking down (vagueness, numbness down his right arm and right leg) and side effects of the steroids (rash on his body, weight gain, swelling, inflammation and pain in the joints and pain in his legs). The steroids are necessary to keep the swelling on the brain down and so he doesn’t have too many side effects of the tumor breaking down. We will be able to slowly decrease the steroid dose, once the tumor has gone.

David has blood taken three times a week to check that his sodium levels aren’t too high, potassium levels aren’t too low and that his liver count is normal. David’s liver count was extremely high a week ago and had to be taken off treatment for 4 days. This was due to the pain killers he was taking for the pain in his legs - this particular medication wasn’t breaking down properly in the liver. Dead tumor cells also pass through the liver in the blood and the liver count is going up and down because of the toxins passing through it.

A ‘preliminary’ MRI scan has been booked for Monday 9th December. The doctors in Houston want to see what is happening at this stage and have also said that another MRI scan will need to be scheduled in another 4 weeks.

Each day is different and we are not sure what to expect - it is a very big learning cure for us all. We continue to pray for a positive result and know another miracle is just around the corner.



UPDATE - 18th November 2002 (A Very Special Thank you from the Stephen's Family)

A very special thank you to Louise, Jack and Chris for sharing their hearts and home with us while in Houston. Your love, generosity, friendship and support helped us through a very hard time when we were so far from home. Thank you for your continuous prayers. You really are angels from God and we could not have made it through without you.

Another special thank you to Elke and David Sprunt (and not forgetting Courtney and Zoe) for all their help, love and support while we were in Houston. You both are truly amazing, generous people willing to help out in any situation - even with your hands full with the girls. It was wonderful spending time with you and having and ‘out’ when needed.

Last but definitely not least, thank you to Ellen, Carol (and Kevin!) Miller also for their love, friendship and support and sharing four wonderful days and memories with us. It really was the ‘best medicine’ for all of us! You came with lots of joy and laughter into the house and still do even though you are so far away.

We miss you all very much, and once again thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

I’ve only one more thing to say:
“Houston - we have NO problem - Not with Louise, Jack, Chris, Elke, Dave, Ellen and Carol around!!”

Much love,
Nola, Brian, David and Sarah.


UPDATE - 27th October 2002

David's Treatment began at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston on Monday, 21st October 2002. David was a little uneasy when they first arrived in Houston, but after 6 days of treatment, he is doing really well with no signs of any side effects. As part of the treatment, David is on a controlled diet to minimise salt and sugar intake - So expect a glowing David when he arrives back in Australia. Treatment will continue in Houston till Nov 7. David will then come back to Perth to continue the treatment for another 7 to 8 months. There will be another MRI scan in another 2 months which will hopefully give an indication that the tumor is breaking down.

The family is receiving FANTASTIC support from the kind people in Houston. Thank you to everyone who is lending their support to the Stephen's family. Here in Perth - the fundraising continues with a "Sell-Out' screening on the 2nd November of "A Big Fat Greek Wedding".

The next event will be a Quiz night on the 22nd November. Newman College (ChurchLands) has kindly offered their function room to hold the event. Tickets will be on sale for $10. There will be Auctions and prizes throughout the night.. so get in quick and register your table of eight people now! Please send an email to david@penfriends.com.au to register your tickets for the night or if you have any questions about the quiz night.

If you wish to donate prizes or have any fundraising ideas, please drop us a line.

Pass on your Best wishes to David by signing David's guestbook



UPDATE - 2nd October 2002

David's close friends have got together to create a recovery fund at the Commonwealth Bank.
This fund will be used to assist in the payment of David's treatment. If you would like to donate to
 "Davids Recovery Fund", please deposit funds into the account below:

Other forms of fund raising are about to commence with the introduction of the "Cadbury Chocy Run". If anyone has any other fund raising ideas.. please let us know!

Account Name:  David Stephens Recovery Fund
BSB:                 066142
Account:           10105448

 


UPDATE - 25th September 2002

The operation was a HUGE success. Dr Teo is a gift from God and did a wonderful job by removing a whopping 90% of David's brain tumor!! Dr Teo was very pleased with the operation and the response David showed immediately after the operation. David was breathing by himself, moving both arms and legs, and was communicating with the Doctors although he was in severe pain.

David was in intensive care the night of the surgery and for most of the next day. Another MRI scan was taken the day after the operation, which showed a "big black hole" where the tumor was the day before. The operation lasted approx 3.5hours.

David has been in a lot of pain since the operation and is on a lot of medication, which is causing some side effects. It is still early days yet but the surgery was a huge success and everyone is looking forward (just praying and hoping the pain will go away soon).

We are now back in Perth getting ready for the next step, which could possibly be a course of radiation treatment.. We are also waiting to hear back from the Burzynski Clinic in Houston.

Thank you so much for all your support, prayers and love.


UPDATE - 18th September 2002

At 4.00pm Perth time (GMT + 8), David will have his operation to remove a significant part of his tumor. Support has been amazing, keep it up everyone!


UPDATE - 16th September 2002

David has been home from hospital for the past four days, the last couple of days could be considered "pretty good days" as he has not been in any pain. Monday (16th Sept) morning however, he was experiencing ALOT of pain in his knee joints and was taken back to hospital. The pain was a side effect of the steroids he is taking and they have now altered the dosage for him. David is back home and getting ready to fly over to Sydney.

Dr Charles Teo has informed us that he can operate on Wednesday 18th September, two days earlier than we previously thought. David and his family are flying over to Sydney tonight, Monday 16th September and will be admitted into Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

Thank you all for your kind support - The Guestbook is filling quickly, Please keep praying, especially tonight during the plane flight to Sydney and on Wednesday during the operation.



BACKGROUND

On the 23rd August 2002, David Stephens was rushed to emergency at Royal Perth Hospital suffering with severe headaches, some loss of movement and loss of vision on his right side. A CT Scan was done and showed that David had swelling on the brain and a mass on the left side of his brain - which was diagnosed as either an infection or a tumor. After several days in hospital, more CT and MRI scans were taken and he was later diagnosed with a brain tumor located on the left side of the brain. A biopsy was scheduled for a week later. David was allowed home for a week, but after a few days he was rushed back to emergency after suffering with severe headaches again.

The biopsy was performed the following Thursday and the results showed that David's brain tumor is an astrocytoma - Grade 3. Quite large - covering most of the left brain and very aggressive. It was also explained that his tumor is inoperable, incurable and terminal.

After much research and the help of many friends we discovered Dr Charles Teo from Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Sydney, who performs surgery on inoperable brain tumors. Dr Teo is a neurosurgeon who has pioneered a method of minimally invasive brain surgery and has successfully performed around 5000 operations. Dr Teo has offered to operate on David and at this stage the operation is scheduled for Friday, 20th September 2002. David, with the support of his family will fly to Sydney on Wednesday, 18th September 2002.

This process is not a cure, however, it is designed to relieve the pressure by reducing the size of the tumor, he will need further treatment to kill off any remaining pieces of the tumor. The treatment being researched at the moment is antineoplastons treatment which is administered by the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, USA.

David is only 26 years old, living in Australia and is currently studying architecture. Davids interests extend from the green felt of the snooker table to the greens of the golfcourse. He also visits the basketball and tennis court on occasion. David has many interests and leads an active lifestyle, which has been put on hold while he shrugs off this new obstacle. With the support of his friends, family and all of you out there, lets all help David.. together. Please send letters of support and prayers to help him through this crisis. With everyone's support and prayers - David WILL overcome this hurdle.

You can pass on your best wishes to David's family by signing his Guestbook.



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