5 Belated Things

I have been slacking on the blogging front.  Life has been moving along steadily, and we are busy with all the normal day to day  things.  I am happy to say that nothing totally earth shattering  has been happening as of late.  There are a few things worth mentioning though…

1.  Dave’s CEA number is down to 22 from 39 pre-SirSpheres treatment.  This makes sense because the tumors in his liver have been radiated to death.

2. The Vectibix rash has come on with a vengeance.  It is not so noticeable on Dave’s face but is all over his scalp and chest.  He is increasingly uncomfortable and is hoping to get some better remedies when he goes in this week for his labs and pre-chemo appointment.

3. We’ve been seeing a counselor at the Life with Cancer Center.  She had two major suggestions which have made a tremendous impact on the mood and atmosphere in our home.  I am so grateful.

4. I finally connected with a friend of my parents.  She walked the cancer path with her husband and was so generous to share her knowledge, strength and advice.  I am always amazed when I realize how extensive our support network is.

5.  We got “Boo’ed” tonight.  Parker is THRILLED.  Thank you to the kind neighbor who included us in the Halloween fun.



As Good As It Gets

ImageThis morning we had an appointment with Dave’s interventional radiologist.  The purpose was to go over Dave’s recent liver MRI/post-Sirspheres check up.  Dr. D. said that although the tumors showed no change in size, that didn’t matter.  The important part of the scan to look at was whether anything lit up – live tumors will absorb the contrast and light up on the MRI. NONE of Dave’s tumors lit up!  So the Sirspheres worked as well as it possibly could.  Wooohoooo!

Dave asked about some pain he was having in his back.  Dr. D. said that is likely due to the procedure, and it should subside over time.  Dave also told him about some stomach pain he has been having.  The plan there is to go off the OTC med he has been taking and see if the pain intensifies.  If it does, he will be referred to a GI doctor to be scoped to make sure there isn’t something more going on.

I think that this has been a tough few weeks on Dave, and I am so hopeful that this positive boost will help reenergize him.



Unanswered Questions

Dave had his scan today.  This is the email response from his doctor —


We ignore the increase in size in the liver lesions as this is post treatment effect and inflammation.
The lung nodules are slightly bigger but not much-as expected.

The liver multiple lesions all appear to have increased in size. These are
all diffusely low in density. 2 of the target lesions have clearly
increased as noted above. Additional lesions also appear larger. The
subcapsular lesion previously measuring 5.0 x 2.5 cm now measures 5.2 x
3.4 cm. Adjacent to this a lesion previously measuring 21 x 19 mm now
measures 31 x 27 mm. The spleen pancreas kidneys and adrenal glands are
not remarkable.  The gallbladder is not remarkable  No mesenteric or
retroperitoneal mass or lymphadenopathy is seen.

lungs demonstrate increase in size of several of the previously noted
metastasis. Anteriorly in the right mid chest the previously noted 7 x 6
mm nodule now measures 12 x 10 mm. In the lingula the previously noted 11
x 9 mm nodule now measures 16 x 16 mm.. A third nodule seen posteriorly in
the right mid to lower chest previously measuring 11 x 9 mm now measures
15 x 12 mm..

No ileus or obstruction is noted. Review of the bone windows demonstrates
no evidence of sclerotic or lytic bony metastasis..

1.  The 3 previously noted pulmonary nodules are each increased in size on
todays examination.
2. Multiple liver lesions are also increased in size on todays study.

Did you notice “2 of the target lesions have clearly increased as noted above” but there was nothing above?  Dave talked to his doctor and he said that he believes the increase is due to the SirSpheres treatment but it could be that the tumors have indeed grown.  I guess we will know more when he has his MRI or PET scan in the next few weeks.

Dave also had an EKG today.  He has been noticing some irregular heartbeats.  We are waiting to hear what that test showed, if anything.

We will let you know when we know.



Week at a Glance

Monday – Brunch with friends.  The perfect way to start any week, I think.

Tuesday – First day of school!  Parker is excited to have fun new school supplies and the same teacher as last year.  Grant goes back reluctantly – he is unimpressed with new binders and pencils, but he has done his reflection on the cancer book and completed the math review packet.  Dave has worked all summer but it’s different, of course, when the students are there.  I went back to work last week and am excited to see the building teeming with kids.  I have the best teaching job on the planet.  Once again I would like to say how much I love what I do.  Also, part time?  Perfect.

Wednesday – The day reality sets in and we realize that we have to do it all over again for 190 days or so.

Thursday – Scan day for Dave.  This scan feels huge to me.  Almost as huge as the very first one.  Dave has been off of systemic chemo since early June so it will let us know what, if anything, has been going on.  We know his liver tumors have been under attack from the Sirspheres, but this will let us know if the lung tumors have remained stable.  The usual requests apply here for positive thoughts, good vibes, prayers.  Dave will have a PET scan or MRI in the next few weeks to determine how effective the Sirspheres procedure was.  Also, Sammi comes home!

Friday – Sam has an appointment with the orthopedist to check on her arm and hopefully have the cast removed.  She will be very happy to be known as just “Sam” on campus instead of “Sam, the girl with the purple cast”.  I am hoping she will stick around for the weekend, but I don’t want to put any pressure on her.  If she wants to head back to campus, then that’s a good thing too.



Stepping It Up

ImageThis week’s activities have just ratcheted up a notch.  I got a call today from the orthopedic surgeon’s office.  They can fit Samantha in for surgery on Friday.  (https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/5-random-things for a reminder of the gory details!)  Samantha wants to have this surgery, and she has been anxious to get it done before she leaves for school.  We had pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen.  

Actually, I think the timing is good.  She will be in a bulky cast for about 10 days and then a standard cast for a month.  Not sure when she will be able to come home to get it removed, but we will figure it out.  I am very thankful that she won’t have to wait until Christmas.  

Dave goes in for his SirSpheres treatment Thursday morning.  Should be interesting at our house for a few days while Dave and Sam recover.  If you don’t hear from me you’ll know why!  : )



A Lot Can Happen in a Year

One_year_anniversaryI launched this blog about a year ago hoping to share our news in an efficient and hopefully interesting way.  Last July = 15 blogs posts.  This July = 1.  Life has been a little busy lately.

Samantha and I survived “Setting Sail” at CNU.  The parents learned a ton, mingled and sought out glimpses of their children.  The kids socialized, played games, ate in the dining halls and slept in the dorms.  Samantha stayed on three more days for summer leadership.  Surprisingly, she texted me daily and even called a few times.  It was definitely a period of adjustment as she looked for kindred spirits and joined in “bonding activities” that weren’t necessarily her cup of tea.  Luckily I was armed with all the right phrases to encourage and support her, and by the end of the week, she was very tired but happy to have found the right school and made new friends.  I think August will be a much easier transition for HER.  (I’ll be crying like a baby……)

Dave is scheduled to have his “mapping” procedure done next Tuesday, July 16th.  Assuming that all goes as planned his first dose of SirSpheres will be August 1st.  We had hoped he could do both sides of the liver at once and take advantage of the summer lull to recover.  Unfortunately the interventional radiologist says this isn’t a good option for Dave which is a change-up from when we met with him a few weeks ago.  So the second procedure is currently scheduled for August 27th, but we are trying to get it changed to a week earlier if possible.  Dave has travel plans over the Labor Day weekend and the school year is just starting to get going at that time.  That timing would be tough since Dave can expect “5-7 days of flu-like symptoms”.

We got a sad email today.  One of the people we attended the retreat (https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/category/couples-retreat) with last October passed away yesterday.  J was the only female patient and had been struggling with poor scans and treatments that weren’t working.  She leaves behind a kind, loving husband and a smart, energetic preteen daughter.  My heart is feeling very heavy.

We are back in the swing of things here at home.   Lots of swimming, guests coming into town, lunch/dinner dates, oboe lessons, tennis camps.  And a consult with an orthopedic surgeon.  Did I mention that Sam has been told she needs surgery?  This upcoming year is shaping up to be a busy one too.  Stay tuned.