Sunday, April 6, 2008


Dear Loved Ones,

My 23rd New Year’s Resolution (Can you believe a quarter of the year is already gone? Is there such a thing as “quarterly resolutions addendums?” Time passes fast when you’re having fun!) is to blog with greater frequency…and less verbiage. I have been rather remiss of late, but in my own defense, I have been watching Dennis up his mass. I’ve decided that putting on weight can be a beautiful thing…and yes, you can be too thin. But he is eating with increasing regularity and gusto…real food that must be chewed, swallowed, and digested, not just absorbed. And just as nature had intended, his weight has gone off the scale. (Well, that truth is a little varnished. Actually he weighed in at a whopping 114 yesterday…not buck naked. But “whopping” is in the eye of the beholder!) He has become visible from any angle, and it demands less and less mousse on his beard to make his face appear filled out. He no longer hides bubble gum balls in his mouth to look robust. These cheeks are the real thing!

I could hardly wait for our appointment on Friday with Dr. Jones. It was actually our “day off” from the gemcitabene infusion, but she wanted to do a general check-up to see how he’s doing. I was thrilled. In retrospect, I probably seemed like I was promoting my entry in “Best of Show.” I kept repeating, “Just look at him!” She patiently smiled and continued to listen to his heart and lungs. (Or maybe she was using her stethoscope to muffle my chatter…Dennis does that all the time! Hmmmm) I wanted her to see him from every angle. I was especially proud of his chest. He actually has one! And it has hair again! And that hair obscures the “tatts” that directed the rays that attacked the cells that shrank the tumor that Dr. Mulvihill resected that made us all so happy. (So much for diminished verbiage!) And then Dr. Jones said a word of indescribable beauty. She said “curative.” Cur-a-tive! And she said it twice: once in reference to the surgery and once in reference to the current protocol of chemo therapy. For the first time since entering the exam room, I was silent. (Whoa! Try to visualize that!) I could hardly wrap my mind around the concept. I was overwhelmed! (Dennis remained composed, as always. However, even his beard could not conceal his smile. But I could tell he was whelmed.) Fortunately, I was able to recover quickly, and in a moment of unmitigated exuberance, I nearly launched into a lusty rendition of “Happy Chubby to You,” (I guess “mitigated exuberance” is actually an oxymoron and smacks of insincerity) However, I stifled myself in order not to disturb patients in other exam rooms or cause Dennis any further chagrin. I guess I had come to the appointment anticipating a bunt, and ended up with a home run…a grand slam at that. Now I know the game is not over. We’re merely at the 7th inning stretch. But we are still IN the game, and that’s all that counts.

Dennis has made such progress that it is hard to imagine the joy of doing every-day, simple, routine things. For instance, circumstances have dictated that I assume some of the tasks that he has always done, and that I took for granted. They’re the “guy” things of life that must be seen to, but are not really fun. But it has provided a certain amount of personal empowerment. I can belly up to the bar and demand a six-pack of Valvoline…Stat! I can rotate the tires, change the filter, flush the system, and discuss the price of oil with any testosterone-charged Bubba in the joint…and cook breakfast at the same time! Fun as that is, it can get tiresome. Sometimes I just want to go back to our old way of doing things. And yesterday, we did. Yesterday, Dennis got the gas(petrol)…and I did not. Minor accomplishment…great victory. It does make us want to celebrate the small things…so we decided to go to Disneyland. Dennis has been wearing his “Goofy” hat (but then, all his hats are “goofy!”) and he has been singing M-I-C and reminiscing about long-ago crushes on Annette Funicello. (Perhaps best appreciated by those who grew up watching “Beach Blanket Bingo” and thinking navel exposure warranted parental censorship.)

There is so much to celebrate. So many small miracles and mercies that seem to defy logic. Besides his weight steadily increasing, his blood pressure is wonderful, and his oxygen level is 99. His temperature is slightly cool, but there is always a warming trend in the afternoon with a high around 98 (Winds, SSE) His albumin is increasing, and his ANC looks wonderful(1.4 up from 1.0) I do not fully understand any of this stuff, but I do understand that he is improving and getting healthier. His voice is less garbled and much easier to understand. No one could mistake his meaning when he says, “Don’t even THINK of blogging that!” (Of course, it’s one thing to “understand,” and another to “comply.”)

Now we know we are not out of the woods, but we’re on the edge of the forest, and we can see the clearing. You have all been such a part of that ever-increasing light. Because no one could stop the storm, you simply sheltered us, protected us, and gave us hope. Cancer is a dark thing…a modern plague that exceeds Biblical proportions. There is no one who will not be personally acquainted in some degree with this insidious disease. The Huntsman Cancer Institute is an inspired facility where hope and technique are readily available. Because of HCI, we were able to hear the most beautiful “C” word of all…”curative.” With this in mind, the “Willowcreek Clot” is sponsoring a fund-raiser for the Huntsman Cancer Center. Dr. Kathy O’Mara calls it “Fighting Cancer With Bikes and Brass Knuckles.” It is the LOTOJA (pronounced “segue”) LOTOJA is a bike ride/race of 206 miles from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming.

From Dr. Kathy O'Mara:
"Welcome to the Willowcreek Pediatrics LOTOJA fundraiser for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. For the unintiated, LOTOJA is a bike ride/race (depending on your accumen) of 206 miles from Logan, Ut to Jackson, WY. We are raising money in honor of our own Dr. Dennis Ashton who has been fighting a superhuman battle with pancreatic cancer since October '07. We are happy to say that he is currently beating the big C. The goal is a round $5,000 but more is better in this scenario."
We can't think of a better gift for Dennis! If you would like to support this great cause, please visit the website:

We will also post the website on the side of the blog.

Our love to you all,

The Clot


Dennis and Nancy said...

we love to hear how you are coming along, Dennis. Way to go with the weight!! We'll bring you a Nielsen's ok? Love you, Dennis and Nancy

Heidi Ann said...

HI Dr. Ashton. It was fun to take a peek at your blog and see how you are doing. You were a wonderful doctor to me as I was growing up. Thank you! I would love to come see you and play some harp music for you at your home. If you could send me your address that would be great. Take care and you are in our prayers.

with love,
Heidi Hughes

Anonymous said...

Dear Ash: What great news on the weight. Chubby Checker is only a whit above you. All our love. Your name is on the prayer roll every week at the South Jordan and Las Vegas Temples and will soon be on the summit prayer roll on Lone Peak. Phillip and Barbara

Dave and Sandy said...

Dennis and Joan,
Way to go guy, you are looking svelt! I bet you enjoyed conference, it was great!
Keep up the good eating and you'll be buffer than ever. Course, Joan exagerates a bit at times, it seems. But that is okay for a wife to do.
Love ya from Arizona
Dave and Sandy

The Herrera Family said...

Dear Dr. Ashton and Family,
I just got the blog address today. We have been wondering how you were and it's so nice to see you are doing better. You checked each of my 3 children the day they were born. They have grown to love you as their doctor and keep asking about you. They miss you and keep asking when you'll be back. I was happy to say you are hoping to be back by summer. I think we might schedule an appt. just so we can see you. Take care and may God bless and comfort you and your family.
Love, The Herrera Family
esp. Adam, Brianna and Brittney

Brianna H. said...

Dear Dr. Ashton,
I'm glad you're my doctor. I am also glad you're feeling better. I hope you can come back to work soon. Here's a joke for you. "Knock, Knock" "Who's there?" Boo. Boo who? Don't cry it's only a joke. :) Thanks for helping me feel better the past 10 years.

Brianna H. age 10 :)

Brittney H. said...

Dear Dr. Ashton

I'm glad you're feeling better. My mom said you were the first one to check me when I was born. I'm glad that you are my doctor. Thank you for taking good care of me for the past 8 years. I have a joke for you. What kind of music does a rabbit listen to? hip hop. :) I hope my joke made you feel better. You are my faverite doctor!

Brittney H. age 8 :)

The Stones said...

We are glad to hear that you are feeling better. You have been amazing with our little boy. Being a preemie I always had a lot of questions and concerns. You made everything seem ok and helped us feel confident in caring for our little boy. Hopefully you will be the one doing his two year check up this summer. I loved that you would call him your super trooper each time you saw him! Know that you are in our prayers and we hope to see you soon.
Chad, Lindsey and Cayden Stone