Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Miracles....they do happen

Dick and I tried to mentally prepare ourselves for our meeting at Mayo today. My PET scan took place at 11:00 a.m. Our appointment to meet with the doctors was not until 4:00 p.m. Of course 4:00 p.m. dragged on to 4:45 p.m. Early on, we both agreed, if there is only one doctor in the room, Dr. Grothey, the scans were not good.

When we were called in for the appointment there was only one person waiting in the room for us. He immediately introduced himself to us as the lung surgeon's assistant. The first thing he did was hand me a pamphlet on lung surgery. He told us it would be a few minutes, as both Dr. Grothey and Dr. Cassivi were discussing the details of my case. I turned to Dick with a's a go!

My PET scan results came back showing no progression. The cancer has not spread to other organs. That, in itself, is a tremendous relief.

Both doctors entered the room. Dr. Grothey introduced his trusted colleague and told me he would leave us to talk for a bit and that I was in good hands.

I think this new doctor in my life wanted to get a good look at me. Size me up....see if I was worth surgical odds. He quickly learned that he is working with a true fighter. Before I knew it, a surgery that I was told was impossible was being scheduled. April 15 is generally not a day most Americans look forward to...dreaded Tax Day. For me, April 15, 2008 will mean I no longer have cancer in my body.

It's not an easy surgery. It's not a quick recovery. It is the beginning of a new life for me.

Miracles do happen. Silver linings can be found. Prayers are answered.

I am on a high. My words may not make complete sense. I needed to communicate the high points. I will provide more detail after I have allowed my new reality to be absorbed.

Heavy hitters....I asked and you provided. Thank you just doesn't seem to be enough.

More details to follow. For now, I need to rest and enjoy a pleasant night of dreams....dreams with a future.

Monday, March 10, 2008


As a separate post, I wanted to share with you a story Dr. Grothey shared with us today.

He had a patient about five years ago that had stomach cancer with a very poor prognosis. The patient was given the protocol of 5-FU (my first treatment therapy). The patient had a severe reaction to the treatment. His body responded to the therapy as if he had been given a dosage 100 times the amount given. He should have died.

This man was very lucky. He ended up in the hospital for three months in a coma. When he awoke from his coma he had been completely cured. He recently celebrated his fifth year of being cancer free.

I believe Dr. Grothey shared this story with me for a reason. I am holding on to that hope and believing that things happen for a reason....miracles take place every day.

Requesting Heavy Hitters

Today was a short day at Mayo. There are so many items to be communicated, I don't know where to start.

First, I will ask that you hold me in your very special prayers this week. I am numb at the moment, as the realization of what the next couple of days holds is hitting quite hard.

There was no treatment today. My body is depleted from my last treatment and the complications that occurred thereafter.

I learned today that my body may be genetically allergic to the newest protocol of Irinotecan. My doctor requested a blood test that will tell us for sure if that is the case. He shared with me that being genetically predisposed is so rare the test is not routinely given. Well, we all know, in his words, how 'unique' I am.

With the above information, this is what he thinks happened that landed me in the hospital. I am most likely allergic. My body did not process the chemotherapy as it would normally. It most likely went through my body two maybe three times. To make matters worse, if he had known I was allergic prior to treatment, he would have reduced the dosage to one quarter the amount given. If I have my math correct, that would mean that I received eight to twelve times the amount of chemotherapy my body can tolerate and stay within the healthy limits of treatment. Thankfully, I am recovering without any long term damage. My kidneys and liver show no signs of stress.

Here's the deal. He does not think I should receive Irinotecan again....ever. With that, he confirmed with me there are no more chemotherapy treatment options. No more tricks to be pulled out of his magic hat.

So....what now? A PET scan has been scheduled for Wednesday morning. If the scan shows that the cancer has not traveled to any other part of my body, I will meet with a thoracic surgeon and Dr. Grothey Wednesday afternoon to discuss surgical options. Should the scan show more metastasis I am not a candidate for surgery.

Here's the synopsis. At this time, if I am not a surgical candidate, there are no more treatment options.

Prayers....positive intentions...healing energy....miracles. Please, I could use your top guns right now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

I returned home from the hospital on Saturday. Last week was a hellish week. One always fears the complications of chemotherapy. Treatment is not really as easy as some would think. Throw a few toxins in the body...kill the naughty cells and be done with treatment. The truth is, there are many battles being waged. This current battle quickly turned into a war and I did not have all of my armament to defend me. My body just could not tolerate the new regimen.

We go back to Mayo to meet with Dr. Grothey next Monday, March 10. Dick and I are both at our wits end as to what we should be doing and what path should be followed. We are completely frustrated by the fact that the professionals do not seem to think that there is any other way to attack this beast other than with chemotherapy. Well, that's a problem, as I am running out of options even with that. I have gone through four different regimens thus far. There aren't many rabbits left to be pulled out of the hat. My cancer is a very specific squamous cell. It isn't treated like a typical colon cancer.

We are heading to Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday and will not return until Sunday evening. We will be celebrating Dick's parents 65th wedding anniversary. It will be good for both of us to get away. It will allow us to think of something other than the "C" word and the next upcoming battle that Dr. Grothey has planned.

Last week was a true testament to the power of prayer. I know I could not have pulled through and recovered as quickly as I did without being surrounded by all the people I have been blessed with in my life. I want to thank you from deep inside my heart.