Back to the ER

Sarah here:

Rachel called me just now (it’s 1:00 am here in Atlanta) to tell me that after an enjoyable but short visit with Kevin’s friends to celebrate his birthday, they are on their way back to the hospital. Kevin’s drain – the one attached to his liver – has come loose.  Kevin isn’t in pain, but it appears that it may be infected, which is particularly concerning given that he had chemo last week and is well on his way to being neutropenic (very low to no white blood cell count – or in other terms, no immune system) with a limited capacity to fight off any potential infection.

They decided to drive back to UCLA rather than going to their local ER as UCLA already has all of Kevin’s information in their systems and, assuming a possible admittance, would be much easier and faster to get him situated. But, unfortunately that means they have an hour drive ahead of them. They aren’t sure if the ER will simply adjust his drain and repair it, or admit him and take the old one out and put a new in. Rachel’s best guess is that they will choose to admit him either way so that they can keep him on antibiotics and free from any possible contaminants or infections. Which is a real bummer, considering he only got out of the hospital a week ago.

Rachel says she is emotionally calm and ok, but she wasn’t able to sleep at all last night and was only able to catch a one hour nap. So she is going into an anticipated hospital stay already exhausted. In addition, her stomach has cramped up, which she thinks is caused by her body reacting to the stress.

Please pray that they have a quick and safe hour drive back to the UCLA hospital. Please pray Rachel’s body will relax allowing her to think clearly and be at peace as they get through the next few hours. Please pray for very little wait time when they get to the ER, to be seen by doctors quickly and for them to have a clear direction as to how to treat Kevin. Please pray for no infection. Please pray that Rachel and Kevin would feel His peace, His presence, and His power at each moment.  Amen.

Holding Steady

I talked with Rachel this afternoon. She says she and Kevin are both doing well but she doesn’t have enough energy to write a blog post herself – being that witty and amusing takes energy people.

So, you’ll have to make do with me for a bit longer – Here is the latest:
Kevin’s liver enzymes are normal. Let me say that again. His liver enzyme levels are NORMAL.  (Praise the LORD!) Also, it appears the ERCT (bile duct shunt insertion) worked! as his bilirubin levels have come down by half.  For now there is no further discussion regarding the removal of the second bile duct blockage as the doctors believe that his bilirubin levels should continue to fall on their own.  The doctors have taken Kevin off of one of the antibiotics but he remains on one other.  His fevers have improved and the doctors feel the infection was a result of the build up in his bile duct.  They also continue to give him Neupogen shots to help his immune system create white blood cells as the chemo suppressed his immune system. He is no longer neutropenic and the doctors plan to continue to monitor him for a few more days.

Rachel and Kevin had a consultation with a wound care specialist to assist them in caring for Kevin’s external tumors as they (hopefully) continue to shrink and break down.  Kevin’s external tumors DO appear to be softening and breaking down but that is subjective and not backed up by any test or scan. Also, because Kevin’s liver levels recovered so quickly, the doctors firmly believe the chemo has shrunken the tumors surrounding his liver.

Given how well Kevin is doing, Rachel hopes for a discharge date of Saturday.  Their apartment should be ready for them to move into by Monday or Tuesday at which point Rachel will be able to gather together all the donations/gifts that have been sent in, so she can determine what, if any, additional needs they will have. In addition, once they are settled into the apartment, some friends in LA will set up a meal calendar so that local friends and supporters can provide prepared dinners and those less local can pay for groceries or have food delivered by a third party provider (a list of suggested services will be provided).

Jude and Evie have begun to struggle a bit missing Mommy and Daddy so Rachel will travel to the valley tomorrow to spend Halloween with Jude and Evie and Grammy Lila and Grampa Paul. She will then bring Jude and Evie with her back to the UCLA area and stay with Cousin Claudia, who has a place nearby, until they can move into their apartment, hopefully at the beginning of next week.

So that’s it folks.  Y’all know what to do… please pray that the chemo keeps working to reduce his tumors, that his bilirubin levels continue to drop, and that his heart begins to heal so that he can be strong enough to start on a new trial, once he finishes chemo.  Let’s also spend time in thanksgiving for the miraculous turn around Kevin experienced. What a blessing to be able to watch God intervene and bring Kevin back from the ‘edge’ once again!

Thank you all so very much for lifting up Brother Kevin and the Hill Family! We are all so blessed by your continued love and support!


Sarah here. Rachel texted this afternoon.

“Kevin’s fever has been high over the weekend but not bothering him… 102.  He couldn’t do Tylenol because it is so hard on the liver.  He had ice packs and a cooling blanket last night which didn’t really help with fever but just made him uncomfortable and kept him up all night.

Praise God!  After sloooowly inching down, his liver enzymes have dropped substantially, almost to normal levels.  This means the chemo and our prayers worked!

However, his bilirubin continues to climb dangerously… He looks as yellow as an oompah loompah!  They will perform an ERCP (insert a shunt to remove the blockage in his bile duct) today and is scheduled for 3pm, but could happen sooner.  They feel confident they will be able to clear the blockage and numbers will all come down very quickly.

This morning Rachel cleaned and dressed his tumors on his face and it appears that they are starting to break down which is also a BIG praise.  Kevin experienced sudden anemia (low red blood cells/iron count) and they are not sure the cause.  He received an infusion of red blood cells.  The doctors feel that it’s not the big concern for now.  He feels pretty rough, naturally but is able to rest today and is trying to catch up on some sleep.”

Amazing and fantastic news indeed!  Let us all shout with praise to God!  Please join us is giving thanks and praise as well as continuing to ask for God’s intervention – that Kevin’s surgery would go without a hitch, that his billirubin levels would lower quickly and that the chemo would continue to work to break down the cancer cells.

I am jumping for joy with gratitude today!

It’s the little things

Sarah here. Rachel called me this evening with Kevin’s news.

Rachel and kevin

First the Liver Update:
Kevin’s liver levels haven’t come down by much – they are essentially stable, but high.  He also has a sustained fever of around 100. The GI specialist had a consult with Rachel and Kevin telling them Kevin’s doctors were going to wait until Monday to insert the bile duct stent as this procedure is complicated by the tumors and they want to bring in the specialist to do it – who isn’t available until Monday.  However he assured Rachel, after much questioning (she’s a great patient advocate for her man) that while his levels are elevated he is not in eminent danger of liver failure and that waiting until Monday will not harm him.


The Cancer Update:
Kevin continues to take the BRAF inhibitor, dabrafenib, every 12 hours and is also on an antibiotic as a prophylactic in hopes it will help with the fever, although the doctors do not detect any infection.  His nausea is under control with medication, which makes him quite tired, but he gets little rest as he is constantly interrupted by medical professionals taking his vitals, blood samples for labs, etc. While the doctors are focusing on his liver for now, assuming that his lever levels are under control within 3 weeks, he will have his next chemo treatment.  If he is well sooner, there is the possibility of a second dose sooner.  For now, his doctors will leave him on the originally determined schedule of one dose every three weeks.

Kevin’s back hurts due to the terrible support that comes with hospital beds but he is relatively comfortable. They are spending their time praying and listening to sermons that bring them comfort. Jude and Evie, who are staying with Paul and Lila Vornbrock (the children’s adopted grandparents) about an hour away, will be visiting them tonight – which is always a joy and encouragement to Kevin and Rachel.

The Little Things
There are a few small bright spots and blessings – the hospital has moved Kevin to a private room!

Private Room Pic

This makes a HUGE difference in quality of life when experiencing an extended hospital stay.

Private Room Pic2


Also Kevin is enjoying his new Fight Club poster, courtesy of friends Justin and Michelle Vogel.


Finally, Rachel and Kevin snuck out of the hospital night before last to enjoy a small date night at the local California Pizza Kitchen, a most welcome and needed break from hospital life, and a sweet time together.

CPK Pic 2


Kevin’s cousin Claudia who lives nearby accompanied them.
CPK Pic 1

Prayer Request:
We ask that you continue to pray. Pray for more energy for Kevin to be able to take walks and relieve some of the back discomfort.  Pray that Kevin’s liver levels and fever will go down and that they can get out of the hospital soon – they were not prepared for a long hospital stay when he was first admitted.  Please pray for their spirits to be lifted and for emotional and spiritual peace.  And finally, please pray that God would grant Kevin healing and more time with his sweet family this side of heaven.

In the morning…

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. ~ Psalm 143:8 ESV

Sarah here.

Rachel texted me this morning.  Kevin slept through the infusion and made it through the chemo last night.  Rachel stayed with him all night and prayed as they took labs at 4:00 am.,  “I prayed for a miracle. Prayed for my own liver to absorb his toxins, for me to take on his pain so that he might live.  In that moment I understood Christ.  It suddenly made more sense than it ever has. Christ’s sacrifice was perfectly reasonable considering how immeasurably he loves us.  He didn’t even give it a second thought.”

His vitals are fine so far and they will hear the results of the labs in a few hours. Kevin is still sleeping and Rachel went to a friends home close by to eat breakfast and take a shower.  She will be back with him in an hour or so.  She is exhausted.  Please pray.

Update from L.A.

A dear friend of Rachel’s, Candace Smartt writes:

I just got an update from Rachel via text.

Kevin was disqualified from the trial that he was supposed to start yesterday. They found out recently and it was a big blow.

He had to go through some heart testing (Echocardiogram) before starting the trial and did not “pass” the test. Seems like some of the treatment he has already had may have contributed to some mild heart issues. Not anything that would be life threatening now, but he is unable to continue with the trial because the medications involved with it can cause heart damage.

Their doctor at UCLA suggested starting a chemotherapy treatment immediately. This was reassuring because in the past they would have to wait a significant amount of time before being able to settle upon the next course of action (when a course of treatment didn’t work out).

The plan is to start the chemo combined with the braf inhibitor (dabrafenib) today. The chemo drugs are taxol and carboplatin. The plan as of this hour is he will endure one day of chemo every three weeks.He will become neutropenic (no immune system) so prayers for health of Kevin, Rachel and kids would be good.

The bad news: Kevin’s bilirubin levels have increased dramatically in the past 4 days (0.5 to 5.8!) They are admitting him to the hospital to try and figure out why this happened and hopefully help them come down. The problem is that the chemo drugs can cause liver toxicity. The liver levels are not a good thing going into chemo treatment.

Please pray that the chemo would immediately start killing the cancer and the tumors would shrink immediately.

Please pray that Kevin’s liver levels would come down significantly and they would find out what is causing the elevated levels.

Please pray that Kevin’s heart and mind and spirit would be encouraged and uplifted. I think he is getting tired and discouraged. Pray for a supernatural comfort and encouragement to fill him.

Please pray for Rachel. She’s got a LOT on her plate. A LOT. Wife, mother, patient advocacy, caretaker, away from home…. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Physical and mental exhaustion and emotional distress are always pressing in hard around them.

Please pray for peace deep, deep in their being.

Please pray for God’s PRESENCE to be manifest – that HE would be so very close right now.

Please pray that God would protect them form the enemy who seeks to kill, steal and destroy us and our families.

Please pray that God would keep them. HE is able. He is more than willing. He loves them more than any of us could ever imagine.

Thank you.

Candace Smartt

Prayer and Petition

Sarah here.

Rachel and Kevin have noticed over the past few days, but today especially, that things are changing and that Kevin is getting worse faster than expected. As a result, Rachel called UCLA, left some messages, wrote some emails, changed Kevin’s flight and he is off to LA tomorrow morning.  Kevin is still able to do ‘regular’ stuff – like take the kids to fast food and the like, but they just don’t want to chance waiting until next Wednesday to start treatment. As of now, they do not know what day exactly he will be able to take his first dose, but know that it will be sooner rather than later.

For the moment, Rachel will stay in Atlanta, pack her and the kids up and fly to LA as originally planned on Tuesday of next week.

Please stop and take the time to pray now. Then please pray at your next meal for Kevin’s health to improve, and at your bedtime for Kevin’s peace of mind and his comfort. Then, when you wake, for Kevin’s family, then pray again for healing… you get the idea. Please pray, as often as you think to, for as long as you can. Please ask you friends, family and community to pray too.

Let’s lift this man up in prayer so that he can feel it. Let’s knock so hard on heaven’s doors that we can not be ignored.

Insult to Injury…

‘Evenin’ y’all. Sarah here.  I’m not sure where to start but here is a jumbled update.

Rachel and Kevin, our brother Joshua and his wife Jen (who flew all the way from Oregon), my husband and I, and all our kiddos took a lovely trip over the weekend to a cabin in the North Georgia mountains to enjoy some family time and make some memories.  It was wonderful and exhausting and a blessing.  We knew that this coming week would be a tough one for Kevin seeing how tired he was, but he and Rachel appeared hopeful regarding the appointments and meetings they were scheduling.

Kevin’s scans at Emory last week showed a new tumor in his brain and he went in today for radiology planning for a second radio-surgery on this second tumor that will happen week after next.  Rachel, after much finagling, was able to reschedule their trip to a day earlier (they leave early tomorrow) to a non-stop flight to UCLA for scans, a biopsy to determine if the current drug therapies are working – we are pretty sure they aren’t as his external tumors have visibly worsened over the last 3 weeks – and a strategy meeting with their lead oncologist at UCLA to determine next steps in treatment.

While Rachel was making calls, emails and packing, a tree fell on their house.  Yes. You read that right.  About an hour or so ago, a tree fell on their house.  Nope, we do not have heavy winds in Atlanta right now.  Nope, no tornado.  Yes, we need your prayers right now. Prayers of gratitude for His protection as no one was hurt, prayer for continued protection – they have had so very many hardships in the midst of Kevin’s 2 year + long battle with melanoma, prayer for peace for them, and as always a renewed HOPE.

A HUGE thank you goes out to the members of the Adair Park community who are rallying around them as they sort through the necessary steps to repair the damage while they are away.  Y’all are amazing.  Thank you.

Pampered Chef Fundraiser

Sarah here again!

First, a brief update on Kevin and Rachel.  Kevin has continued to experience symptoms and side effects that may or may not indicate that, in some ways, he is getting worse and in others,  better.  He continues to be very tired with minimal stamina, but ‘holding steady’ as it were.  Kevin has taken leave from work for a few weeks to primarily rest and recover as well as to visit with family and go to doctor appointments.  We hope you will join us to continue to pray for Kevin and Rachel.

Secondly, THANK YOU all so very much for supporting our brother Josh Marinacci and his WebOS fundraiser!  With your help Josh was able to make a really BIG dent in the “Bridge the Gap” campaign and we just can’t thank you all enough!

Finally, we are grateful for Elise Hamel who is hosting a Pampered Chef Fundraiser for the month of October!  Pampered Chef has everything item and gadget you could ever want for the kitchen, and lots others for the home.  We hope you’ll peruse the products offered and make a purchase to support the Hill Family!


Here’s how it works:

  • 10% of sales  made during the month of October will donated to the Hill Family if the total purchased during this fundraiser is less than $600.
  • 15% of sales  made during the month of October will donated to the Hill Family if the total purchased during this fundraiser is $600 or more.
  • Elise will contribute 100% of her commission which means up to 30% of sales will be given to the Hills.
  • An additional $3 will be contributed for every future Show booking from the fundraiser. This could be for anyone who wants to host a catalog/online show anywhere around the country.
  • $1 of every purchase of a “Help Whip Cancer” limited edition product is donated to the American Cancer Society (this does not deduct from the % given directly to the Hills)

To order, follow these steps:

  1. Visit and click on “shop online”
  2. Enter “Hill Family Fighters” or the name “Rachel Hill” in the Host/Organization Name
  3. Click “search for host” (if you just click on “place an order” your order will not be counted towards the fundraiser)
  4. Select “Hill Family Fighters” and you will be taken to the store.
  5. After you have selected your items, you can proceed to check out.
    * NOTE: ALL customers must select direct shipping.

Also, if you have a purchase of $75 or more, you can select one of this month’s guest specials (in it’s own category on the left hand menu of products) for free.

If you want to order but aren’t comfortable placing an order online or have problems ordering or questions on products, let us know and we can put you in contact with Elise directly and she can take your order over the phone.

Being Their Hands and Feet

I have posted lately asking for monetary support to assist Kevin and Rachel in keeping afloat financially, and so many people have generously reached out and selflessly given to the Bridging the Gap campaign.  Today, however, I ask for your prayers.

As you know Kevin’s doctor at UCLA changed his existing medication (BRAF inhibitor) and added another one (MEK inhibitor).  Unfortunately it took much longer than originally anticipated for the new BRAF inhibitor drug to be shipped and so Kevin continued on his old one (Vemurafenib) along with the new MEK inhibitor.  The new BRAF inhibitor finally arrived and Kevin switched.

Since then his progress hasn’t been particularly promising.  In some ways he seems to be slowly improving and in others appears to be getting worse.  There are some other treatment options that might be available to Kevin that Rachel is researching, however to try those, he needs to be healthier, which they are hopeful this new drug combo would accomplish.  At the moment his quality of life is diminished but, as usual, he keeps plugging along, working as much as he can and barreling through.  Told you. He’s a BEAST.

All that to say, please pray friends.  Ask for healing, ask for his body to respond to these drugs quickly, ask for him to feel well enough to enjoy time with his family, ask for peace and hope for the Hill Family.

In addition, many people have asked how they can help outside of providing financial support to the Hills. Here are a few ways that would really benefit them:

  1. Spread the word.  Repost this blog to your FaceBook page, Twitter feed, etc. Copy the link into an email and send it to your non-social media friends.  The more folks praying and supporting this family the better.  And, feel free to forward along the information about the different fundraising events that we have going on as well. (Tomorrow is the last day for the WebOS Auction!)
  2. Be Their Hands and Feet.  Rachel continues to struggle to keep up with the trials of daily domestic life in the midst of her own ADD (read this post if you want a refresher), two small children, and her husband’s battle with cancer.  If you have an hour or three to spare, why not spend it at Rachel’s house?  Play with her kids, fold her laundry while her kids nap so she can run errands, bring them dinner and eat it with them – then help put the kids to bed for the night, or share a cup of coffee with Rachel after her kids are down for a nap.  If you’ve got a few skills, they could use the occasionally handy-man, lawn service professional, house-keeper, or baby-sitter too.  I will post a calendar soon where you can sign up for a shift.  Make it a weekly or monthly commitment. Or, if you can only do once in a while, sign up for a day you can do it and when you have free time again in a few weeks or months sign up for another.
  3. Pray. As always your prayers and petitions are the greatest need this family has.  Ask your kids youth group to pray, ask your church to pray. Organize a prayer vigil and invite your small group and neighbors.  If you aren’t the praying type, thoughts and notes of love and encouragement would be wonderful.  You can mail them a note at 746 Pearce Street, Atlanta, GA 30310, or you can post something to the Hill Family Fighters FaceBook Page.

Thank you, all, so very much for your prayers and support. They make a HUGE difference.

Let’s pray.