A Rock and a Very Hard Place

Bret started a new chemo pill called Sutent on June 1. This drug works by depriving the tumors of oxygen and blood supply.  We were all very excited and hopeful when Bret started to see some positive effects of this drug. He noticed that the tumors in his wrists seem to be shrinking – causing less pain and limitation of mobility.  The tumors on his skin surface seemed to liquefy into something more like blisters than tumors. Unfortunately, depriving the tumors of blood and oxygen also deprives his skin of these important nutrients causing his skin to break down. His incision, which was fairly well – healed suddenly started to break apart.

Because of the side effects from the drug, it is administered in a cycle…4 weeks on…2 weeks off… As soon as Bret went on the rest period, the side effects minimized but tumor development returned almost immediately.

Currently, Bret is in the second week of the second 4-week cycle of Sutent.  It is again keeping the tumor development at bay, but his skin has become very problematic. He has a lot of open wounds that are increasingly painful. It has become very difficult if not impossible for him to get out of bed. He is caught between a rock and a hard place.

The best diversion continues to be expanding his awareness of history…current events and a wide array of subjects that come up. He is watching documentaries…movies…specials…etc. His keen interest in everything around him makes our visits wonderfully stimulating. We are constantly discovering new subjects to explore.  Despite his pain and discomfort, Bret continues to keep our heads riding in a good direction.


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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26 Responses to A Rock and a Very Hard Place

  1. Dani Solberg says:

    I am glad to see an update! I am bad about keeping my blog updated but during my bad stretch it was comoforting to others to read so thank you! I am sending you all hugs and well wishes. Bret you are amazing and continue to show so much strength that gives me encouragement. Chick flicks were my addiction during my in bed stays, my Wii, and my nephews who loved bouncing on the bed and pretending to be Doctors and making me feel better! 😉 Ever need advice to keep your mind off of things let me know!

  2. Sally Leeson says:

    I so wish the chemo could be effective without being so devastating to Bret’s skin! Leave it to him to be absorbed with history, current events, documentaries, etc. Most of the rest of us are so sick of hearing about some of the current events. The Washington debacle must be amazing for him – maybe he can see some threads of history running through all the craziness? We do think of him and Shannon and your whole family just about every day!

  3. Bret!!! After checking daily it was my suprise and pleasure to see a post today! You have turned my day in a good direction! You are on our minds daily. My parents were here this weekend and of course the first question when we see them is “how is Bret?”
    We all love you so much and send you so many positive thoughts your way. I’m so sorry that you haven’t caught a break… its just not fair.
    Hopefully you got the book and movies we sent. We will work on another goodie package soon.
    Always on our minds. Much love to you.

  4. Betsy Wager-Stenclik says:

    What a great way to start an update….a perfect picture of an amazing couple, that has a way of showing how much love there is between them. Bret, I’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with some bad side effects. With all of your supporters praying for you, sending positive vibes and thinking about you every day, you would think that would be enough to get rid of those tumors for you! I know we won’t give up on our end and know that you won’t give up either. Stay strong and know that so many are wishing you nothing but much better days ahead.

  5. Elisa says:

    We love you Bret!!!

  6. Makiko says:

    Thank you for the update.
    As Elisa has shouted in prose, I echo her thoughts. You may technically be my “in-law,” but I’ve always viewed you as my brother, the kids’ uncle, and we all love the heck out of you!

  7. Lisa Dotson says:

    Bret and Shannon, I know I am a stranger to you both but we have more in common than you know. My father is 71 and also fighting this rare disease. Please keep updating us. You are such an inspiration to me and my family. You have givin us knowledge and direction on how to never give up and how to fight this. I just want to say thank you for sharing a little part of your lives with us. It’s so nice to see a couple so much in love. Sending prayers and well wishes your way!

  8. Kristen says:

    Bret, I saw your Mom a last week and thanked her for having such an amazing son. Keep strong, you are never very far from my thoughts or prayers.


  9. Chrissy Kid says:

    HEY! Thanks for letting everybody know what is going on. I have SO missed your blog, Bret, and it was weird, but I just had this thought that there was a new message and …….voila! There it was. (Does this mean I am hearing voices now?). Anyway, I hope this phase is more acceptable (as only YOU can make it!). Stay at peace, know that I love you both and lastly…….BIG HUGE MONSTER HUGS TO THE BOTH OF YOU! Love you both from the bottom of my soul………I wish you enough!

    Chris Schulz

  10. Judy Lynd says:

    Bret… great seeing the update today…too bad the side effects are so miserable…we’ll continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers and know you will continue to move in the right direction in spite of them…you and Shannon are an amazing example of what true love is for everyone. Judy and John

  11. Dan & Lin Dean says:

    Hi Bret and Shannon,
    Another great picture of the two of you! You are always in our thoughts and prayers. Lin

  12. Laurie Sherner says:

    Sorry the chemo is so brutal, Bret; your smile is heartwarming and I keep you in my thoughts and prayers. We call those historical documentaries “suck you in’s”, as they are, indeed, riveting. Please know your army of supporters are here, rooting for you!

  13. Cousin Nancy says:

    So glad to see you again Bret and Shannon. I can’t make it this year to New York. I just want to tell you that you are always in my thoughts .

  14. Yvonne M Sellers says:

    What a wonderful surprise, to click on your blog link in my saved favorites, to find an update! The love & strength the two of you, Bret & Shannon.. Just puts us all to shame. We whine about the heat, or whatever trivial trouble we are dealing with, when you are going through so very much more, with such grace & strength, and love for each other! My wish for you is peace, and of course healing. My thoughts and prayers are always with you both, and your Family. If you want a break from the history & current event shows, check out Pawn Stars & Storage Wars.. My latest addiction!

  15. joe kohler says:

    Hello BRET !

    What continually simply AMAZES me,from your first blog I read, is YOUR INCREDIBLE COURAGE,THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE/ LIFE.EER PRESENT SMILE IN THE PICS,

    AS I told your Mother your shall Forever be a HERO…Inspiration….source of strength for me,with my albiet minor challenges.

    Your story,Gods Glory, could be SOOOOO helpfull to Every person on this Planet strving to keep both mind,body and spirt alive !

    Any Cuba cheese left could of course be sent to Fidel Castro from his US based production facility etc.

    Seriously IF I may ever Honour you with luncheon either at Bristol Harbour please have Mom call me…she has my number,or email me etc.

    Your Understudy…

    joe kohler & Family

    conintuing to pray…..

  16. Christine & George says:

    Bret, this comes to you from our hotel. We’re in Alaska, and think of you often. If you have recieved some chilled good vibes, they are probably from us. We also send our love.
    George and Christine

  17. Ashley says:

    I’m sorry you are having to take the bad with the good but I am happy to hear that the Sutent is having some positive effects! Keep fighting the good fight – you have so many people supporting you from near and far!

  18. Wendy says:

    Hoefen family, thanks for the update. You are so in our thoughts and prays.

  19. Ellen Edmond says:

    Your inner strength and courage enable you to make the most of each day. So nice to see both your smiles. This update also brought a quote from Jim Valvano to mind, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Even when this disease keeps giving you lemons, you still make lemonade. Way to go! We are thinking of you daily. May tomorrow be a great day…and Happy Anniversary!

  20. Kristen Seamans says:

    Bret & Family,
    I think about you a lot and pray that you are finding your way along this road. I am happy to hear you are finding enjoyment from somewhere – although history isn’t where I went. Murder mysteries to read and two seasons of Mad Men back to back to watch…
    Thanks for the post and please know you are in my thoughts.
    Kristen Seamans

  21. Anthony D. says:

    I am glad to hear what that drug does to the tumors but very sorry to hear about the side effects and pain he is in. Bret is very brave to try out such a new drug. We’re all squeezing for a miracle.

  22. Nanette P. Hance says:

    Thanks for this update. I continue to admire Bret’s courage and willingness to try new things.

  23. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Hey it was was so good to see your smiling faces my dears! Sorry to hear the side affects are brutal. Keep smiling…… I’ve seen 5 rainbows so far this summer. I take that as a positive sign! Love you guys. We really enjoy the updates and guest bloggers!!!!!!!

    Auntie Cuz

  24. Rachel Randler says:

    Hi Bret,
    I know you dont know me but I too am facing this nasty cancer and have been following your blog since I found out 2 months ago. Your have amazing family and friends. I pray for all of us everyday! Keep your head up!

  25. Bret you don’t know me but I am a friend of Carmel Hall and she has asked for prayers for you and I have been praying for you. I have followed your journey for the past few months when I myself was experiencing some major medical problems. I thought I was going to die at one point. Through it all I kept you in mind and your struggle and your courage and strength and it has served to strengthen me in my fight. I have now been diagnosed with MS and have started daily injections and feel a million times better. I want to thank you for your honesty and for opening up your life. You are touching many people that you are not aware of and are inspiring others with your courage and strength. May God bless you and heal you.
    Lisha Gallegos

  26. Jessica says:

    Hi guys,

    Thinking of you…

    Jessica, Joe, Abby & Jack

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