Latest doctor visit results in good news for Bob

Susan Manzke
Bob looks over his six month scan with Doctor Groteluschen.

When Bob’s melanoma cancer returned with a vengeance last December, things looked bleak. The cancer had popped up all over, even in his brain. My husband was gaining 10 pounds of water weight every week. What could we do but charge ahead and fight?

First up was brain irradiation. Second, came cancer pills that are so potent if I have to handle them, I need to wear gloves.

Bob needed pills to control the pain he was having. He hated having to use pain pills, and nausea pills, and water pills.

It took most of January and February to see results. First, the fifty pounds he had gained from water weight, started to drop. We celebrated when he could wear jeans again. For two months, large sweat pants were all he could manage.

On the worst days, we didn’t think he would live until spring—of course, it didn’t help that we were living through an extremely wicked winter. It was hard to keep him warm and comfortable.

As winter dragged on, Bob’s pains dwindled until he no longer needed the pain pills, or the nausea pills, or the water pills. The cancer pills continued two times a day.

The doctors said that after six months Bob would have another CAT scan and an MRI. These would tell us how well Bob was responding to the chemo pills. If they weren’t helping, decisions would have to be made. There weren’t a lot of options except for palliative care.

For the last month, Bob had become very active. He mows lawn almost every day when it wasn’t raining. He’s been up on our tractor—the small one—and moved the carcass of a dead deer. Last week, we moved from the living room, to again sleep in our bedroom upstairs—for a long time, Bob was too weak to take the stairs.

Things couldn’t have looked better. Bob was himself again, yet I dreaded the scan results. I couldn’t sleep at night thinking that though things looked good, the scans would show Bob’s cancer had popped up in his brain again, or somewhere else. It had returned so fast in the beginning, could it do the same again. Of course, now he had his twice-daily chemo pills.

Our daughters, Rebecca and Rachel, arranged their schedules so they could take us to the big scan reveal. I was set to hear the worst.

Waiting the few minutes at Green Bay Oncology for the doctor to arrive drove me crazy. I was told to stop tapping my feet—I didn’t realize I was doing that.

The latest scan image on the left shows that the spots of cancer in Bob's body have shrunk significantly compared to the original scan (right) that was taken six months ago.

Finally, Doctor Groteluschen arrived and he was smiling.

Rachel was taking notes on her phone for us. Dr. G. said, “It looks really, really, really good.” He continued to tell us: the blood counts are great… The CAT scan shows no new spots…. The lump under Bob’s arm decreased by 70-80%. Overall, everything shrunk 80-90% and no spots on the brain are visible anymore.

Tears came to my eyes—odd because I avoided tears when the first bad diagnosis was given to us.

Bob isn’t out of the woods, but at this time we see light through the trees.

He has to stay on his meds, which have side effects but he seems to tolerate them. These medications may be taken for the rest of his life. “And hopefully all the spots are going away,” said the doctor. “The next scans will be in 3 to 6 months.” Monthly appointments continue.

The doctor brought up the scans on the computer for us to see. He showed the big difference between the new scans compared to the ones taken in December.

Bob shakes hands with his oncologist as Susan smiles in relief following the delivery of encouraging news at Bob's latest doctor appointment.

It was an appointment we celebrated. That night everyone slept better.

Bob and I want to acknowledge everyone who has prayed and wished us well during these dark days. You are all part of Bob’s success. Thank you…and continued prayers are welcome.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;