Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Over the River and through the Woods

I had my most recent chemotherapy last Wednesday, November 16, just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday!


I am now getting used to the ebbs and flows of low energy, foggy states of mind and hiccups (hiccups are the new nausea - a much better alternative!). Hair follicles are dropping like flies. We have trimmed it about as much as you can, so it is now time to bring out the razor and call it a day.

The assortment of hats is working well, making a limited fashion statement, but keeping my head warm! Next chemo is December 13 - Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo Simulation: Don't try this at home!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And now a word from our Surgeon

This journey continues to be one of ups and downs and now it is time to share one of the "not so ups." I met with the surgeon last Wednesday morning...he is a straight shooter and I always appreciate his candor and directness. For the most part he confirmed a lot of what I/we had been suspecting, but there were a few new twists, too, and it has taken me a little bit of time to process it all.

Surgery still remains a potential path we might be able to follow. The good news is, if there is surgery and I come out of it OK, after a period of time with no recurrence I would be considered 'cured'. That would be good news and the best possible outcome. We will not be able to look at surgery as a possible path until after all of the chemotherapy is behind me.

Now for the complications with surgery. 

I confirmed that this is a Stage 4 tumor and while it has been reduced in size it is not as small as we had thought. It still remains at about 5 inches by 3 inches and possibly as much as 2 inches deep in some areas. So, it is a pretty big tumor.

I suspected (and also confirmed) that the tumor remains attached to the Superior Vena Cava artery. This is one of the three arteries that make up the aorta that leads to and from the heart. Additionally, I apparently have a clot in the SVC. This clot seems to be pretty well anchored in the SVC so there does not appear to be much concern with it detaching and causing a stroke or whatever else run-away clots might do.

The net of all of this is, if they want to surgically remove the tumor they will have to remove and replace the aorta. There could also be complications with vocal chords, breathing and swallowing and the possibility of recurring swelling - pretty major stuff. My surgeon has done this before with 100% survival rate, but it is a heavy duty, big time surgery with risks.

The other path would by-pass surgery all together and I would live with whatever of the tumor is left. This would require analysis and possible treatment every three to twelve weeks for the rest of my life - Unfortunately, the shelf life for survival with this path is also greatly reduced.

So, that is where we currently are. In the meantime I am feeling pretty good and living as normal a life with all of you as I can. We continue with the chemotherapy and hope that the continued treatment further reduces the size and impact of this tumor.

I truly appreciate that I am not making this journey alone. Thank you all for the continued thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hat Box

Hats have been coming in to warm the scalp of our Joe. Some of 'em complete with hair.

A man of many looks. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On the Road Again

Home for the Holidays!
My blood work from Halloween came back looking good - The white blood cell count is low, but no shot or follow-up appointment is necessary. We also scheduled the next chemotherapy for Wednesday, November 16 with 2 more to go after that. 

FYI: Surgery may no longer be on the table, making this a chronic...yet manageable...condition I can live with. I will know more about that when I meet with the surgeon on the 9th. Slow progress, but there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel! 

Further good news: I am able to travel by car to Carmel for the holidays!