Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Day in the Life...

It doesn't exist.  Every day here is different.  Sometimes, days go by without much happening.  Other days, so much happens, it's hard to know how to sum it all up.

Billy has been fighting a pinch in his right side all week.  We'll be talking about something, and all of a sudden, he grimaces.  The doctors don't know why it's happening.

Yesterday, they did an ultrasound of his liver to try to figure some of this out.  One of the physicians came back in the evening to explain the results...
  • The ultrasound showed some "sludge" in his liver, which is to be expected, since he is on TPN (IV nutrition).  He has been taking TPN for 5-6 weeks now, and it is taxing on the body.  The nutritionists have gotten involved, and they're going to try to change some things up a big, so Billy still gets the nutrition he needs, but his body also gets a break from the TPN.  Billy will get the same amount of TPN, but they'll speed up the rate so his body gets some downtime.  Hopefully, this will help his liver.
  • The pinch is likely from an irritation in the diaphragm.  Apparently, the nerves in the diaphragm are connected with the nerves in the shoulder, which is why the pinch in Billy's side shoots up to his right shoulder.  The diaphragm is likely irritated by the gastric cancer.  
  • Billy has a blockage in his small bowel, somewhere toward the end of the bowel.  The bowel is many feet long, so there's no way to get the NG tube all the way to the blockage to ease up the pressure.  So the only way to clear the blockage is to do surgery.  Surgery would be traumatic to anyone, but in Billy's case, it would be incredibly dangerous.  He has gastric cancer and an infection in his abdomen to contend with.  If, during surgery, bacteria from the bowels would leak into his abdomen, it would be really bad.  He'd get very it doesn't seem like a good option. 
  • My dad asked if it was possible that the blockage in Billy's bowel is an inflamed lymph node.  The doctor said it's possible, and he thinks it's likely that the blockage is lymphatic (as opposed to cancer), but he doesn't know for sure.  The only way to know for sure is to operate...and we already know that's not a great idea.
  • My dad also wondered about how well the herceptin is working.  "Is it possible," he asked, "that the herceptin has killed a bunch of the cancer, and the lymph system is inflamed from trying to clear out dead cancer cells?"  The doctor said that herceptin is not all that much of a cancer-killer, so it's not likely.  Herceptin works well with chemo, but it's not a big cancer-killer on its own.  
All of that makes sense, but it's not great news.  At the end of a hard day, it's difficult to hear news like that.

Yesterday morning (before the ultrasound), we ordered a bunch of patches.  (Bobby had worked on the design, and I had negotiated with the company; after we reviewed the third proof, we placed our order.  We were really excited!)  Soldiers and pilots wear all kinds of patches on their uniforms and helmets.  Some are standard (like their last name and a backward American flag)...

Why is the flag backward?  Army policy is to wear the stars at the front.  When the patch is worn on the right shoulder, the "front" is the right side of the patch.  As the soldier walks forward, it gives the illusion of the flag blowing in the wind.

...and some patches are left for the soldiers to choose.  After we created the Ask Me About BILLY t-shirts, someone suggested that we create patches for pilots to wear on their helmets.  On Monday, I sent out a facebook message to the Will's Hope 2010 facebook group to gauge the level of interest (because we have to order at least 100 patches).  The response was overwhelming, so we went for it.

A Sample Patch

Patch Details
  • They're 3" x 2", with velcro on the back.
  • Price:  $5 each
  • Arrival Date:  Tuesday, December 7
  • If you'd like a patch, let us know.  (Send an email to, and include the shipping address and a count of how many patches you'd like.)  Right now, 72 patches have been claimed.  We ordered 100, so if you'd like one, please be sure to let us know as soon as possible.  We can order more, but we have to order them in batches of 100, and they take 2 weeks to arrive.
  • Payment:  
(1)  Via Paypal.  Go to  Click Send Money.  Select Friends and Family.  Enter the amount.  Follow the steps.  When it asks for an address, enter  Continue through.  You may give by credit card, and it will charge a small fee.  Please be sure to enter your name and your mailing address in the comments, so we know where to send the patch(es).
(2)  Via Check.  You may send a check to us.  Please make the check payable to Michelle McCotter, and send it to:  Michelle McCotter, WRAMC, 6900 Georgia Ave. NW, Mologne House Hotel Room #533, Washington DC 20307.  Please include your name and mailing address in the envelope, so I know where to mail the patch(es).
I'm excited to have patches!  And we're adding a new t-shirt design to our store at  I'll let you know when those are up as well.

In Other News...
In response to my most recent Facebook message about the patches, some woman accused me of trying to scam everyone.  She told us that we "best take her off the mailing list," because she didn't want to receive any more messages.  I was hurt and angry.  How could someone think this was a scam?

I'm including the story as an example of the kinds of things that come up in a day.  The idea of patches was exciting.  The scam comment hurt and made me mad.  I was excited to finish work (computer programming) and go see Billy.  And hearing the results of the ultrasound was disheartening.  Lots of ups and downs.

But somehow, we keep pressing on and hoping for miracles!

Ways to Pray
  • For miracles.  For Billy's stomach and intestines to work like they're supposed to.
  • For good memories and fun times over Thanksgiving.
  • For grace in dealing with less-than-gracious people.  
  • That we would love each other well.


  1. (((Billy and family))) It must be hard to feel grateful with all that's going on, but be glad that everyone is fighting hard. Keep on hoping. mindy

  2. I am so thankful to have this time with Billy and with all of you. You guys have become family to me and while the circumstances are less than desirable, I am so glad that I have met all of your wonderful selves, that I can come visit at the hospital whenever I want to and that you all are a drive away to say hello, and spend time with you. I'm looking forward to creating some wonderful memories with all of you tomorrow. Love, Kels

  3. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you - you are a courageous and inspirational family. Enjoy this day together.

  4. In our thoughts and hearts this day. All of you are such mighty warriors in this battle of "Will's Hope." Even when things look overwhelming, Love will overcome. Love never fails. I am so sorry that one woman said what she did. What a pitiful person she is!!! What matters is you all know you are doing amazing things, despite all the difficulties. I am praying for each and every prayer request. I am so sorry it has been discouraging this week. Above all this day of Thanksgiving, we all wish for all the best for Billy and your family. Stay close to one another. Don't give up now. We love you all. Mrs.Woods in Alaska.


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