Thursday, October 27, 2011

Measure for Measure

I spoke with the doctor in radiation today who confirmed the latest CT Scan as showing the tumor reduced by about 50% from the original scan - He estimates it to be reduced to about 3 inches long and 1 inch across - still sounds ugly, but definite progress to our end game!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hat Trick

Sans Hat: Cold, Bald and raging against the wind
Avec Chapeau: Warm, Content and Stylish
 Joe's going from Midoxinil-averted Male Pattern Baldness to just plain bald in the very near future and asked me to trawl eBay for him:

"I will likely need hats the next 3-4 months - hat size is Medium (7 1/8 - 7 1/4) - not caps as I have a slew of those - happy hunting!"

I thought it might make a project worth sharing. Any of you have hats in his size collecting dust in your closets?

CT Scan

I had another CT scan this morning to measure improvement since the last radiation treatment. Nothing dramatic, but the Doctor was pleased and reports a continuing reduction in the size of the tumor.

Yay!!!   ? 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hurry up and Waiting Room

Running as fast as I can

Friday's chemo session came and went - The Keystone Cops on-than-off-than-on-again morning finally eased into Nurse Janet tending me for seven hours. She administered seven drugs, providing a little something for everything.

My comfortable little room allowed me to set up my laptop and work through the afternoon. Thompson was able to come up and join me for the last hour and a half. He was able to partake in a sandwich break and a tour of the facility.

Prior to my first session I had been prepped to expect a large room with a lot of folks hooked up to receive their treatments. What I found instead, happily, was a group of well spaced rooms, some with fountains and bamboo gardens outside their windows, all totally private with snug lounge chairs, televisions and the semblance of a private nurse. 

Bryan Hemming Cancer Care Center at the California Pacific Medical Center
Not a get-in-line-for-the-experience adventure, but a respectful and comfortable way to work through chemotherapy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red Tape

Well, I just returned from a nice visit with friends and find that I received a voice mail from the hospital that my long awaited chemo treatment scheduled for 9am on Friday, October 21 was never authorized by my insurance carrier. Apparently the doctor's office never requested having the treatment authorized. Proceeding without authorization would be on my dime so I was strongly advised to cancel and reschedule. I feel like I am all dressed up with no where to go - I have my anti-nausea meds and my boost the white blood cell count shot ready for me, and am all primed to get this show on the road, but have been stopped cold in my tracks - Bummer - 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strength in Numbers

My happy little white blood cells are making new friends
Good news!

My blood work came back today with strong white blood cell counts - Next up is chemo on the 21st with a follow-up shot to keep the count up on the 24th!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Amazing Healing Box

I received the most special gift today...not only the most special gift that I have ever received in my life, but the most special gift I could ever imagine receiving. It took me several moments to comprehend what the box was, why I received it and what the contents inside were meant to convey, and once I did, I had to stop and hand the box to Thompson just to collect myself.

It's beautiful. I was, and remain, overwhelmed by emotion by what so many of you have all worked together to send me. If these were even just blank slips of paper you had all crafted I would cherish them, but the few slips that I've been able to read without tearing up tell me that these messages will each fill my heart or make me laugh and give me strength to get me through this adventure/challenge/course/period in my life.

Once I can stop the flow of tears I will read and absorb them all.

I am truly blessed and treasure every one of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Are you Purell pure?

Every day brings something new (sometimes twice, as I thought I'd done enough blog updating earlier) . . .

After updating this morning I got a call from my Oncologist. I figured it was a follow-up to a message he left yesterday, but no - something new. My blood work indicated a low white blood cell count and I needed to come into the office right away for a Neopogen shot (which would hopefully boost my system up to normal levels). The last time I had a low white blood cell count I ended up with an infection and a 7 day hospital stay.

Needless to say I was on my way within minutes - I am on alert this weekend for any sign of a fever.

Hopefully all will be well with follow-up blood work scheduled for next Tuesday. If I am going to be seeing any of you soon, good health and clean hands are very important!


Reality Check

I met with my Oncologist on Wednesday - He tried to sugar coat the results of the radiation with a whoop that they were behind us, but the reality is they stopped radiation treatment as it was beginning to damage healthy heart and lung tissue. Our remaining assault against the tumor is now a more aggressive chemo regimen.

I knew this was coming, but it is still hard to get "excited" about. There will be 4 more chemo sessions spread three weeks apart and starting the week of October 17. They will be more aggressive with a new drug added to the mix - The drug that will make one nauseous, lose their hair and have a very low white blood cell count - 

Did I mention I am not excited yet? 

But, I will get my arms around this and will be excited - This is the regimen that will knock this tumor out as much as possible so that we can determine our next steps.

Monday, October 3, 2011

R and R

Now that Joe's treats aren't being irradiated anymore, he and I caught up with friends over the weekend...Joe is actually beginning to look and feel like his old self again, I'm very happy to report (though he describes himself as running on 5 cylinders instead of 8).

On Friday, Rosa and Clark came up with Desma to meet us for dinner and over the weekend we heard from a variety of Joe's friends via email and telephone.

(Incidentally, those of you who have not been introduced to the cuteness of Elvis, the son of our friends Ann and Pete...voila...
...Elvis created and sent the cancer crab that's worked miracles on Joe.) Ann, Pete and Elvis sent greetings and the above picture from a day out in NYC.

On Wednesday Joe meets with his oncologist to see about the course of treatment now that radiation has stopped. We'll let you know when we know. We really don't know if it's a "good" thing or not that the radiation treatments were stopped. The tumor is so close to vital organs that one of the reasons they decided to stop was so as not to damage heart tissue, etc. Of course, the fact that the tumor reacted so well to radiation IS a good thing, so we'll see what's next on Wednesday.

By the way, Rosa asked if we were sugar-coating things on this blog to keep his friends from worrying. I guess to a small degree we probably ARE just out of our natural personalities, but the episode that prompted the question was when every day we'd blog that Joe was supposed to get out of the hospital "tomorrow" and tomorrow turned into a week.

That really WAS the info we were getting from the doctors...if we'd known he was going to be there a whole week we would have started whining WAY earlier. And made him drink more water so they could have unhooked the IV earlier.