Friday, October 11, 2019


Many of you will remember when Jill was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017. If not, you can read the whole story (well, most of it) by starting at the earliest post and reading through to today.

Since completing her treatment, Jill has had regular MRIs to monitor any changes, and she’s been sailing along with nothing to report.

This week, however, Jill’s scan showed two small areas of tumor growth on the left side (her previous tumor was on the right hemisphere). We are so thankful for those regularly scheduled MRIs! Jill has had no symptoms to indicate any change, so the scan has made it possible for the oncologist to detect cellular changes at an early stage. In fact, the doctor has cleared her to go on a long-awaited trip to Australia and New Zealand this month with David and their son, Zack.

Would you pray with us for Jill, David and the whole Kinnaman family? Pray for their precious time together on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, that they would comfort and encourage each other—and have some epic fun! Pray for wisdom as they decide with Jill’s doctors what course of treatment to take. Pray that they draw close to Jesus and seek him at every step, especially when the way isn’t clear.

Thank you for walking alongside the Kinnaman family! If you’d like to send a message to the Kinnamans, feel free to do so in the comments section below. As you might expect, David and Jill will be focused on her treatment and their kids. We will keep you updated as we are able, and you can check this website for updates.

Thank you for praying!

Sincere thanks,
Team Kinnaman

Jill's Chemo & Radiation Phase

Dear friends,

Jill is doing her chemo and radiation treatments now. She’s about two-thirds of the way through the approximately seven week course. She’s feeling pretty good, and the only side effects are tiredness and a little hair loss where they blast the radiation. That’s essentially along the surgical site, stretching from her right forehead to her temple.

We are doing the treatments at USC Norris Cancer Treatment Center in LA, which is about 90 minutes from our home in Ventura. That’s been one of the biggest challenges, logistically getting her there five days a week. But we are managing. Most weeknights we stay in LA, commuting down on Monday afternoon and then back again to Ventura on midday on Friday. We’ve been blessed to stay in a really wonderful condo in downtown LA, by our friends Mike and Jeanie.

So many have pitched in so much since June 5 (when Jill was diagnosed) that it’s hard to imagine how we could have done without. Still, LaDonna, Marilyn, Darcie, Wendy and Aimee deserve special thanks.

Jill is doing so much better cognitively it’s really a miracle. She really is mostly back to her old self. She was so dreadfully sick in July and August and it’s taken the better part of the summer and fall to get back to being more normal. With each person who saw her this summer, we get to relive the weird and wacky memories of Jill’s disorientation.

Such as when she was convinced she was going to China and tried to pack her bags.

How she’d get lost on short walks around the block from our house.

Or how she was convinced that our three children had received “fart inoculations” when they were younger. And she was indignant that they were no longer working!

Ah, memories!

The rest of us are doing well. Zack thrives being homeschooled; I’m proud of his hard work and love for reading. Emily is still enjoying college, though grateful that her first semester is winding down. Annika's brain runs white hot keeping up with AP classes and junior year pressures; she's gearing up for basketball season. I’m staying busy caring for the needs of the family and digging out of the piles of work from the summer.

Still, we are glad to see the finish line: Jill completes her chemo and radiation on December 18 or so. And we will be very thankful indeed to turn the page on a hellacious half year.

Please continue to pray for Jill, for me, and for the kids. For the ministry of Barna Group and the team of colleagues, friends and family who has pulled so hard for us.

Through it all we’ve grown closer together as a family, experienced such love and generosity from others, and seen the words of scripture and Jesus give us peace.

Much love,

September 26, 2017

Jill has been doing much better the last few weeks. She had a lumbar puncture about two weeks ago. The good news is that the count of white blood cells was lower than a month ago, but still not quite good enough to start chemo. She will have another test of her cerebrospinal fluid in about two weeks. The hope is that this next test will help to confirm her continued healing. And that the infection will be completely gone. If not, the doctors have raised the prospect of another surgery, though we think that probability is fading. 

So that's how you can pray for us, for Jill. 

In the meantime, she seems to be improving overall with each passing week. The mental fog, for the most part, seems to be lifting. She's starting to ask questions to clarify what was real and not real from the last couple months. That's been reassuring and also pretty funny as we've recounted some of her fanciful mental episodes. 

We continue to have people with her all the time, just to make sure that she's got someone backstopping any needs she may have. She's mostly ok with this, though she's getting antsy to start driving and having a little more independence. I'll take that as a good sign as long as she doesn't forget she's not supposed to drive yet. 

The kids are all doing well; it's been helpful to get rolling with the school year and regular routines of fall. Emily is loving college; Annika is rising to the challenge of AP classes, cross country and junior year; Zack is working really hard on his homeschooling. 

I'm doing ok. Settling in to some normal-ish rhythms after the brutally hard summer. I've got a lot on my plate and the work load at Barna is picking up. In most ways things are getting a little easier with lots of help, loads of generous support of the care for Jill fundraiser, and massive amounts of love and prayer. 

And I continue to do work on my soul. Running. Sleeping a lot. Talking and listening to Jesus. Reading Psalms. Journaling. Trying to slow down. 

So that's the update for now. Sincere and heartfelt thanks to you for loving the Kinnamans.


The Blessing of Jill

Thank you, dear friends, for your beautiful prayers and encouragement during recent weeks and, really, all summer long. We have gone through a "valley of the shadow" kind of stretch and it has really helped to experience so much love.

I apologize for not posting in a while. We've been overwhelmed with antibiotics and appointments, getting Jill therapy, making new rhythms as a family, dealing with logistics, riding the emotional roller coaster and getting ready for the inevitable end to summer. That included moving our oldest daughter, Emily, to UC Berkeley for her freshman year. I dropped her off a week ago to start her molecular cell biology degree. She already loves living in the Bay area and the cool, crazy and challenging environment of Cal.

Jill is finally done with her eight weeks of antibiotics. Talk about a massive relief. She had a PICC line in her arm, which is like a semi-permanent intravenous tube for medication. Administering these drugs took seven to eight hours a day, beginning at 6 am and going to about midnight most nights. That all ended recently and we are so happy to be done. I can’t begin to describe how much work and effort it has been; a real-life “horror coaster,” as my friend Margaret calls it. Caring for Jill has been a team effort, including my kids, Emily, Annika and Zack; my mom, Marilyn; and LaDonna, Aimee, Cora, Darcie, Karen, Bev, David and Mauri, Tracy, Lili and Eddie, Shannon, Leslie, Peter, Michael, Larry and Krista, Lisa and many others. The whole team at Barna. (Thank you!)

Jill is definitely doing better on most counts, physically. She seems stable and her energy seems to be returning, bit by bit.

Despite progress, it is still unclear if the infection is completely gone. Her recent lumbar puncture (spinal tap) results may be showing signs of infection . . . or they may just be signs of residual inflammation. Jill will need another spinal tap in the next week to see if her numbers get any better. If they don’t improve, the possible outcomes could include more antibiotics (ugh!) and possibly another surgery (quadruple ugh!!!).

If her numbers do improve, however, Jill is all set to start chemo and radiation sometime in the next month. But the next stage of treatment can't begin until the docs are confident the infection is gone. Because chemo suppresses immunity, lingering infections can become even more dangerous during chemo. I know it sounds paradoxical, but please pray she can start the chemo / radiation soon! That’s the best possible next step for us!

Cognitively, Jill is still disoriented . . . a lot. She loses track of key details like time of day, whether she has eaten and what’s happening around her. Here are a few snapshots of what this looks like:

  • When we were doing the antibiotic infusions, we had to keep pretty constant watch on her because she would often try to pull out her PICC line (something she did on multiple occasions). At the cancer center yesterday, she had to be carefully attended to so that she didn’t get lost in the hallways.
  • Almost every day she asks if we are going to Berkeley (she wasn’t able to make the trip up with us to drop off Emily, unfortunately). My wanderlust wife is always ready to pack her bags and “go somewhere.”
  • She frequently asks about family members as though they were “just” with us, even though we may not have seen them in weeks or months. For a time, she asked about our deceased dog, Lucy, who died last summer. That really rattled the kids, who grieved deeply for that canine.
  • Jill is not allowed to drive, although she offers to do so—a suggestion quickly met with strong protestations from the rest of us that she’s not, under any circumstance, allowed to operate a vehicle.
  • She’s not yet reliable to keep track of household needs, like shopping lists or financial transactions. So I am filling in on these duties—learning, for example, that Costco on a Sunday afternoon is a bad, bad idea.

Candidly, Jill’s current state is somewhat dementia-like, but the doctors continue to believe she can and will make a good recovery. It’s not a degenerative condition; her brain is re-generating and building itself back. Still, our medical advisors believe it may take from 12 to 18 months for that recovery to take place.

So that’s a tiny window into things right now. I’ve really wrestled with what to share here on the blog, because I don’t want Jill (or my kids) to ever feel that her condition or our lives are overly scrutinized. But I think this small glimpse into the zany adventures of the Kinnaman family can help you know how to pray and to walk alongside us.

By the way, some friends who are close to our journey have seen all that’s involved. They have helped us begin to acknowledge that we are going to need all sorts of help for many weeks and months to come. These friends started a fundraising campaign and you can help, if you’d like, here:

Through it all, Jill is simply amazing. She never complains. She’s always in good spirits and kind. She makes lots of jokes. She blesses us. One of the most powerful things I have experienced this summer was Jill’s prayer for Emily the night before she left for college. It was cogent and sweet and powerful—a mother’s prayer for her daughter to be kept from the work of the Evil One and to thrive in her friendships, her studies, her calling and her faith in Jesus. We were all in awe and in tears that night.

With love and thanks for the prayers,

Tuesday, July 25

Jill got home middle of last week and things have been relatively stable—whew! We take great relief in ordinary days.

She gets her antibiotic infusions three times a day, which takes about six hours for her and for all of us who are attending to the medicine balls, saline flushes and latex gloves. It's a crazy amount of work on top of the three brain surgeries she's already endured. 

So far, she seems to be doing well—no more fever, at least. We walked about a mile yesterday and that felt so good, moving about our neighborhood hand in hand.

Jill needs someone to be with her pretty much all the time, because she's still disoriented at times and having a hard time staying clear on what's happening. That's tough for all of us, because we can see that she hasn't completely gotten her cognitive footing. The doctors and therapists think this can be regained, it will just take time. In the meantime, we've got a lot of work on our hands.

After last week's hospitalization for fever—Jill's third extended hospital stay in two months—the reality of the long haul is settling in. This new normal of working to get Jill healthy and whole is going to take time. And many, many prayers.

We are so grateful to the team of people who are helping and just hanging out with Jill. 

Please pray for no infection or complications, for enhanced cognition and decreasing disorientation, and for all of us who are caring for her. 

Much love,

Tuesday, July 18

Another day of sitting around, waiting for the antibiotics to do their thing. 

Jill walked a lot today. She spent maybe 60–75 minutes on her feet during the day. We even went outside for a Diet Coke at a curbside kiosk in the hospital plaza. 

Her fever is down to normal. And she got to eat today. 

The emerging plan is to get her back home on Wednesday or Thursday. And we will be upping the quantity and number of antibiotic infusions at home, from one type of antibiotic twice a day to two varieties three times a day. It's going to be a lot for her—and us—to manage. 

Given the length and durability of the infection, we will be looking for other options as well, just to make sure we are covering all the bases. 

Still, we are grateful that she's been stable and stronger each day.  

Keep praying that the increased dosages and course of antibiotics do their work. And for Jill to continue to heal! 

Sincere thanks for all the prayers and well wishes. 

Much love,

Monday, July 17

It's been a mostly uneventful day at the hospital—which is its own kind of good, since it turns out days can, in fact, include events like brain surgeries and stays in the ICU. 

The doctors continue to search for the cause of Jill's fever. They have completed a spinal tap and blood and urine tests. Nothing conclusive to report tonight. 

One thing we've learn about the medical world is the slowness is not simply health professionals being slow and trying to ignore us. In fact, the exercise of patience can help to make opaque medical conditions more clear. That's essentially the case here. 

The MRI shows Jill's brain is not much different (but may even be a bit improved) from 10 days ago, right before we were discharged. So, Dr. Zada doesn't think the fever is another brain infection, per se. 

But again, we sort of wait. We wait to see if and how she improves with the range of antibiotics. 

Jill's doing better compared to yesterday, from what I can tell. Right now: She's enjoying a People magazine, we are listening to Hillsong's new album (love the title track, "Wonder") and she's cuddling a stuffed white kitten I gave her today. (I'm hoping it keeps her hands from scratching at her incision, a habit that has the nurses shrieking in horror.) 

It's been hard to get solid footing in all this, to be honest. So thank you for your prayers! For Jill, for me, for my immediate and extended family, and for those we work with at Barna. Please pray for us to be strengthened, to find rhythm even the ups and downs, and to remain hopeful in all this. 

Thank you!

Back at USC

I brought Jill down to Keck again last night. She had a very lethargic day Sunday and developed a fever. So, under advice from Dr. Zada I brought her down, since risk of infection is still a big deal. We got her admitted, zapped an MRI and all that jazz. 

Here's a text I just received from Dr. Zada, which feels like an efficient way of reporting what I know at this point. 

Hi Dave
Jill looks OK overall. Mental status is appropriate. Had a fever last night but not today so far. She is on broader antibiotics. MRI looks ok as well. We are getting urine and blood cultures. If those are negative she may need a spinal tap. Will be in touch. GZ

Jill looks pretty good today, better than most of yesterday, actually. Hoping the broader spectrum of antibiotics are effective and other results are clear.

Jill's amazing. I'm holding on. :) 

As always, your prayers for us both (and the kids) are appreciated.

Love ya,

Heading home, again!

Jill is coming home today! Two weeks in the hospital and two additional brain surgeries (for a total of three altogether). But she gets to sleep in her own bed tonight. 

We still have to monitor her closely for recurrence of infection; she is not completely out of the woods on that. And she'll have to take IV antibiotics at home for awhile. 

But it's a huge step. 

Now we've got to get her cognitively fully healed and her brain all calmed down. That way, she can start chemo and radiation in August.

Oh yeah, that, too. 

Still, after some anguishing days and nights, going home feels incredible. Once again, I can't thank you enough for your prayers and support during this dark time. Thank you! 

Several people here at Keck Hospital at USC have commented about what an amazing network of support we have. "Are you part of a church or something?" asked one nurse yesterday. "Because people don't usually have so much support, especially since you live 90 minutes from here."

In Jesus, we are family. 

Please keep praying for Jill and for us. 


Holidays & Hospitals

It's Independence Day (I wrote this yesterday, on July 4th). I'm observing this holiday in a hospital, sitting with my dear wife, Jill. This isn't how we planned this day to go, much less the past month. But we are finding a new rhythm. We played the card game Uno, colored pages (the doctors said it's good therapy) and learned a new game together.

Jill is doing pretty well. She was released from ICU this morning (Tuesday). Moving out of that environment always feels like one step closer to our destination. 

Medically, she's been dealing with an elevated heart rate for the last 10 days or so, since the second surgery. It seems to be creeping back to normal. So that's good, but please pray it continues to settle down.

We haven't heard the results of a CT scan she received this morning. I assume that's means there's nothing urgently wrong. Still, prayers on that are appreciated. Again, we are praying for no new infection pockets or bleeding, and no setbacks or complications on Jill's road to recovery.

Cognitively, she's mixed. She still struggles at times to understand or remember all that's happened in the last few weeks. She's crystal clear on details from before the second surgery, but after that she sort of loses her sense of where and when she is. I can hardly fault her for that, since my brain is exhausted by all that's gone down. Still, please continue to pray she regains all cognitive function in the days ahead.

She's had a handful of visitors the last couple of days. She is always delighted to see and chat with family and friends from Ventura. I think its been helpful to create some semblance of normal context for her.

We should learn more in the next couple of days about what's next for Jill and when she can come home. 

Again, we are so grateful for your prayers and your friendship.


Surgery 3, Recovery Day 1

You read that right: Jill had a third brain surgery late last night (Saturday). There was another developing pocket of infection that had to be cleaned surgically, literally called a "wash out." You can read more about it in last night's post.

The procedure was successful and "definitely needed to happen when it did," Dr. Zada reported. Based on the operation, he thinks this infection had been walled off from the previous wash out (that was surgery number 2, which happened last Sunday) so it had been left to its own devices. 

We asked about why the antibiotics hadn't taken effect in that pocket, even though the lab work shows this bug is susceptible to the drugs. There isn't a clear answer to this. The working hypothesis is that it was separated behind scar tissue or other membranes and was not sufficiently hit during the previous antiseptic surgery. This infection was further back in the right lobe, more above and behind her ear. (Remember, her tumor was in the front right part of the brain, and that's where the previous infection wash out was performed.) 

There was some good news: Zada said the front part of the brain, the spot they cleaned out last time, looks pristine and uninfected. So it's a good sign that, once clean, the infection is fully treatable. 

Here's the thing to pray for, specifically: that there are not any more pockets of infection, that none develop, that the antibiotics fully do their trick and that Jill has no further setbacks—and no further surgeries!

She is resting comfortably and woke up to say hi. She's been talking away with me, and every minute with my sweet friend is golden. And she's looking really good—so much better than after surgery number 2. She's asking for breakfast. 

Oh, and she thinks she rode Star Tours last night. I'm not going to contradict her on that one. 

I'm relieved, weirdly, to know there is an explainable cause for the slow recovery and other complications. Now we pray hard that there isn't more infection and that she heals quickly and fully!

Dr. Zada now says Jill is in rare company to have had three brain surgeries in four weeks. I would certainly hope so. Last night, while reading the Bible and praying, I felt so comforted by Jesus and so clear that he is holding us together, preparing us for what's next. 

Thank you for your continued prayers. 

Much love,

Third Brain Surgery

As you know, Jill had a second surgery a week ago. Her recovery has been agonizingly slow, and she is still in the hospital. Initially she was intermittently confused and, at times, hallucinatory. As disconcerting as this has been, some of Jill's remarks have had us all laughing.

We are grateful that Jill's spacey moments have diminished. Today she spent most of the afternoon in cheerful (and rational 😊) conversation with my mom and our good friends Darcy and LaDonna. She got s great back rub and her hair cleaned up. 

Our concern, though, has been at least two seizure-like symptoms in the last couple days. For a few brief moments, Jill's left hand, left leg and the left side of her face have gone numb, and her speech has slurred. Remember, the right side of the brain (where Jill had the tumor) controls the left side of the body.

Tonight (Saturday) our neurologist informed us that an MRI this morning indicated Jill may have a pocket of residual infection, which is likely causing these symptoms. So they will have to do a third (!!!!) surgery to literally wash out her brain one more time. 

I have the highest praise for Dr. Zada. He's so competent and supremely caring. As he was explaining the procedure to us tonight, he reassured us that, if this were his sister, he would recommend this.

Still, it is crazy. It feels surreal to say Jill is going back again—again!—into brain surgery. Procedure begins now and should take an hour or two. 

Please pray for Jill!

P.S. I will post an update in the morning Pacific time. We covet your prayers!

The End of a Long Week

It's Friday, a merciful end to a long week. Jill continues to make slow-but-steady progress in her recovery from the second brain surgery. She's so much better than Sunday, when things really bottomed out. 

Yesterday (Thursday) she left behind the annoying beeps and constant check-ins of the ICU. Now she's in a regular hospital room with slightly less frequent beeps and check-ins. The tube that drained excess fluid from her head was removed yesterday, as well.

There have been many other important gains each day. Mentally, she's getting better. Her comments and questions are more connected to reality. Her short-term memory is improving, too. 

Physically, she is moving—though slowly. She walks but needs assistance getting up and down and around. The doctor mentioned today that she probably needs some physical therapy, so we will see what that entails.

Jill shows her sense of humor with regularity. Sometimes that means messing around with the nurses, who are duty-bound to administer regular neurological exams. "How many fingers am I holding up?" asked a nurse yesterday, with only her index finger extended. ️

"Four!" Jill said. "Just kidding, one!"

She's also had some funny (and awkward) moments suspended between reality and a post-surgical haze. On Wednesday morning the nurse reminded her, "Don't pull your tubes or cords." 

"I got you. Keep the snake in its cage," Jill responded with glazed eyes.

I drew close to her and whispered, "What are you talking about, honey?"

Her response, at regular volume: "You know what that means, David."

Ah, life in the ICU. Inhibitions right out the window.

(Last night, my dad reminded me of one of his post-op experiences. He asked a nurse how long his procedure had taken because, he advised, "You look a lot older.")

So that's our update for today. We are keeping in good humor despite an epic week and its intense pain. It's been rough days for Jill, for us all. It's important to acknowledge that. Still, we are encouraged by her continued healing. Thank you, able doctors and good medicine. And thank you, Jesus.

We are also grateful for the love so many have shown us. Every single text, call, tweet, post and note means so much. We are never alone, and it helps to be reminded of that by so many. Thank you!

Keep praying,

Recovery, Day 2

I just spent the last three hours with Jill. Her vitals are all stabilized and continuing to improve. She's definitely better cognitively than yesterday. More lucid. More conversation. More aware—mostly—of what's going on. More eye contact. More memory. She asked about the kids and the dumb dog. That's progress. 

So great to see her more herself. 

There's still a ways to go. She can't figure out quite where she is and has trouble keeping the relevant details, like she can't just get up and go to the bathroom, in her head. She thought she had a hamburger for lunch, which brought a laugh from the nurse who had spooned her bland jello. 

Earlier today she kept trying to convince the nurse to allow her to take Zack to the dentist. She said she's got to figure out tonight's dinner for the family. She asked me if I needed for her to book a plane ticket to London. 

Well, that's getting closer to the real world, I guess. 

She's answering longer-term memory queries pretty well. I asked her, "Do you remember who I am?"

"David Thomas Kinnaman, 12/25/73," she rattled off, as though she's been asked a lot of memory tests the last few weeks. (Yep, I'm a Christmas baby.)

She had a hard time believing she had a second brain surgery. (So do all of us!) She didn't seem overly concerned to hear that more of her head was shaved. She was surprised to learn she had meningitis. 

But it was all good, because it was a real conversation with my wife. 

She's still fidgety and complaining of a sore back. But she's more peaceful overall than yesterday. Oh, and she walked a little, the nurses reported. Current plan is for her to head out of ICU maybe tomorrow and perhaps home at some point over the weekend. 

So nice to see a little more normal Jill, my sweet friend. 

Thanks for your prayers. Please pray for continued progress, deep rest, better memory and enhanced awareness. Please pray for our kids, Emily, Annika and Zack. They have been very brave but it's a super scary time of immense anguish. Pray we would maintain hope, not just in Jill's recovery but in Jesus. 

With love and thanks,

Recovery, Day 1

I just finished visiting Jill in ICU. After maybe the worst weekend of our lives (and that's considering that Jill just had brain tumor less than three weeks ago) she is mostly alert and communicating. After a long night and morning awaiting her to come out of sedation, I was grateful to see her. "There's my hubby," she said, peeking out of heroically tired eyes. That was a sweet, soul-satisfying moment. She took special pleasure in ice chips after getting the breathing tube out earlier.

Jill still has a lot of recovering left to do. She is super restless and uncomfortable and she's trying to get oriented to what's happening. I asked if she knows where she is. "A hospital somewhere." And 10 minutes later: "Can we just get out of here?" She said this as she tried to swing her legs off the bed to leave. See, what I mean? Restless. Disoriented. She's got a plastic tube and pouch coming out of her head, collecting excess fluid, in addition to the usual IV lines and oxygen tubes. That should come out in the next few days.

I'm getting exposed to a lot of new medical terms, which no one wants to learn, not even med students, I think. Dr. Zada said they identified the pathogen, a variety I can't recall now. But they will customize some antibiotic cocktail to fight it, in addition to the other stuff that she's on. The nurses and colorful monitors confirm that her vitals are returning to normal.

The last 48 hours have been insane:
Saturday 6 pm: no signs of infection and home eating dinner
Sunday midnight: in ER in Ventura with incredible pain
Sunday 6 am: in ICU in Ventura showing big neurological and cardio problems
Sunday noon: en route to USC hospital via medical transport, with meningitis and blood-born infection
Sunday 6 pm: just out of 2nd brain surgery and in recovery
Monday midnight: under full sedation and in ICU
Monday 6 am: not able to come out of sedation without restlessness (pulling at tubes, etc.)
Monday noon: breathing tube removed
Monday 6 pm: restless, but able answer questions and mostly alert

Right? I-N-S-A-N-E.

Life is fragile.

Here's what's next: Pray for Jill to rest tonight. For her continuing and complete healing. For me and for the kids. For so many who love and depend on Jill.

I've been sustained the last couple of days by 2 Corinthians 1:3–11. Here are a few highlights from this section of scripture:

  • God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
  • He comforts us in all our troubles so we can comfort others.
  • For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.
  • We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it... but as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
  • And you are helping us by praying for us.
  • Many people will give because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

Thanks for the prayers, friends.

With great love,

Update 6:00 pm, Out of surgery

Jill is out of surgery. Dr. Zada, the awesome neurosurgeon who did her first procedure, says it went very well. They cleaned the infected areas, gave her new titanium parts and she's on a broad spectrum of antibiotics. 

It was a deep infection, including pus in the brain. Although it's a setback and she has to start over in the healing process, the doctor feels she will recover fully from this. Without any guarantees, he thinks the neurological problems over the past 24 hours were effects of the infection, not damage from the infection. They have to culture the bug to figure out what it is. 

She was really sick today, including a high heart rate, which is also related to infection. She should be out of post-op recovery in the next couple hours. 

My friend Todd is coming down to USC, so we will sit and wait to see her. She may have a breathing tube through the night, in which case she won't see me. 

Praise God for a positive outcome on a horrible day for Jill.

Please pray now for no setbacks—no problems with the incision, straightforward post-op, no constipation—and for a better-than-expected recovery process. Pray for her time in the ICU, that Jill will weather the relentless poking and prodding, that neuro tests will return with good reports.

Thank you, friends.

Update 3:45 pm: Heading back into surgery

Jill has meningitis. That's what she's been dealing with the last 24 hours (see the update from earlier today). 

She is going into surgery to clean out the wound and brain this afternoon. This is like doing the same surgery all over: same incision, back through the skull, but even more recovery time may be needed. 

My sweet Jill. Man, she has been pummeled by one thing after another. 

Keep praying! I'll update the blog after surgery. 


Prayers, Please

Jill had a long night. I took her to the ER in Ventura late on Saturday night with headaches and vomiting. They gave her pain meds; those helped and she fell asleep. She spent the night at the hospital. We were in touch, of course, with the doctors at USC.

This morning, she's not well. Super restless and in a lot of pain. She's showing some neurological changes from yesterday—for example, not answering questions correctly. She will be transferred (again) back to USC later today.

Her CT scan looks unchanged from yesterday, which is good news. We still don't have good answers as to why. Perhaps an infection; perhaps swelling. I don't have a lot more details, but I'll relay them as I can here on the blog.

Jill needs your prayers today (and so do we). As my five-year old nephew, Oliver, observed last week, "We need to pray hundreds and hundreds of prayers for Aunt Jill."


So, Jill has cancer.

Specifically, she has anaplastic astrocytoma, grade III. The doctors think the tumor likely started as a benign grade II some time ago (probably years) and recently went to grade III—hence, the onset of severe symptoms like daily migraines. 

Astrocytoma is not hereditary, meaning the kids aren't at greater risk. 

Jill will begin about six weeks of chemo (pills) and radiation starting in a couple of weeks. We've been told the side effects of this particular kind of chemo are more minimal—probably not loss of hair, for instance. Still, Jill won't be feeling her best while undergoing treatment. 

We plan to stick with the team at USC, where she's been treated from the beginning. They have a stellar reputation treating exactly this type of cancer. To make it as easy as possible on Jill and our family, we plan to find a place near USC, or at least in the LA area, to "live" Monday thru Thursday nights during the course of her treatment. That means all you Ventura locals who have signed up to bring meals through the summer (thank you!!) should visit the Kinnaman Meal Train page for a revamped schedule—and LA friends, we're thankful for any help you can offer now that we'll be in your neck of the woods!

The prognosis for recurrence isn't clear. Most of the data is based on use of an older medication that is not as effective as the newer chemotherapy she'll be on. Jill is young and otherwise healthy, which are certainly factors in her favor. We are doing our research and are thankful for the team of experts on our side; we feel confident we have the information we need to take this journey day by day.

Last night, after learning the diagnosis, Jill and I actually felt a sense of relief. Now we know. We have a plan. We have great doctors and insurance. We have so many people praying for us. 

As for the family, we spent time yesterday evening talking about how each of us were feeling. We prayed and read Psalms together. We planned for our regularly scheduled weekend hike (Jill won't be joining that one!). We feel scared but are leaning on each other and on Jesus. Oh, and we ate a lot of ice cream.

That's what we know for now. We are doing well, considering. Jill, as always, is a total trooper. We have peace about what God has next. Even in the fog of our pain, may he be glorified. 

Much love and thanks for the prayers!
David (and Jill)