March 30th, 2014
A lot of time has passed and a lot has changed since the last update. Mom was able to tolerate one chemo treatment but had to stop treatments due to the side effects and the wish to have quality of life. It’s been almost 2 months since her last treatment and she has been on hospice care at home since stopping treatment. Last weekend I learned that she had been falling while home alone. This changed things and we decided she needed someone around at all times. She also began finally using her walker which helps her quite a bit. She hates to be a bother and tries to sneak to the bathroom and back without help to avoid “bothering me”, I need you guys to help break her of that. Thankfully, I have started working from the house, I work for an awesome company – InfoTECH, and when I need to leave we make sure a friend or family member is here. Thanks guys!
Most of this week has not been good as Mom was in a lot of pain and having trouble keeping what little food she eats down. Thankfully the last couple days have been slightly better and she has been eating pretty much anything I bring to her. I have also straightened out all of her pills and keeping them all organized and trying to stay ahead of the pain and nausea.
Big thanks again for all those that help or even just have her in your thoughts and prayers. We are taking things one day at a time.
January 30th, 2014
It’s been a while since the last update but that’s mostly due to the fact not much has changed. I say not much other than that little thing of most of Mom’s hair falling out. The radiation to her brain took it’s toll finally on her perpetually done-up hairdo. She has some head covers and even a couple wigs but due to the radiation also have given her a nasty sunburn on her scalp, she mostly leaves her head uncovered these days. If you come to visit be prepared for her new Sinead O’Conner-esque look.
Mom had her very first visit with Dr. Broussard, whom she likes very much, today and this is what she has told me as I could not be with her and a friend brought her. The first treatment is this coming Wednesday (Feb. 5 2014) and she will have a single treatment once every 3 weeks. There will be an evaluation after each treatment to see how Mother’s spirit and body are dealing with the chemo. The chemotherapy is being done to try and lengthen life and slow the progress of the disease, it is not a cure and the doctor made that clear. Each treatment will take about half a day of being hooked up to an IV and Mom already has transportation to her first one.
The disease does look to be progressing as Mom is in more pain in her chest and back than ever before even though the headaches are better. She also tires easily and gets short of breath.
Keep the thoughts and prayers coming.
P.S. If you’re looking to help she really likes the cracklings from the Sausage Link and Little Debbie Marshmallow Pies. She’s going to kill me for putting this in but we have to keep her eating and her weight up so bring it on! Love you Mom!!
January 17th, 2014
…with full-brain radiation anyway. Mom just finished her 10th and last treatment and we’ve moved out of our little hotel room and we are headed home. Traci and the kids will be headed to Sulphur too for the long weekend to keep Mom company.
On a side note I heard there’s a few places in town with crawfish so I think that’s on my menu at some point this weekend.
January 16th, 2014
Currently we are in one of the “dips” on the current bumpy road we’re traveling. Mom’s radiation treatments are taking their toll on her physically and when you’re not feeling well it’s easy to not feel the best emotionally either. I’ve been around this disease enough to know these days are expected and tend to be followed by another good day so patience and understanding are both needed during these troughs. Not saying I’m always good at these two things but at least I recognize what’s needed and I try. This is the first day that the expected dizziness and nausea that the radiation oncologist and techs are constantly asking about has shown itself. Safe to say she has felt better.
We are currently waiting for her to have her second to last treatment and she will be attempting to move up her treatment time from 3:30 to an earlier appointment to allow us to be in town sooner and also to allow us to not have a huge gap between hotel checkout and treatment.
In other news we have the needed paperwork signed by the doctor and in hand for Mom’s leave from work and we have the dates set for Mom’s chemo treatments back home by Dr. Broussard. She goes for blood work on the 27th and then for an initial visit with Dr. Broussard on the 30th. Specific dates and times are on the schedule page.
January 15th, 2014
Only 2 more treatments left! I would call Kelli’s visit today a complete success as Mom had another woman around to pal around with. We were pleasantly surprised when Mom wanted to come when I was going to go up to the hospital way early to show Kelli around and we ended up being treated like royalty. After doing the tour of all the major parts of the different buildings at MD Anderson and bringing Kelli through a day in the life of a cancer patient, Mom decided to go ahead and try to see if she could get in right away to her doctor appointment and also to her treatment. We were hours early but everywhere we went took mother in pretty much right away and changed the schedule to accommodate as if there was no problem at all in doing so.
We had barely sat down when Dr. Jhingran’s nurse called Mom back and as soon as we finished answering the nurse’s questions the Dr. herself was in there. All this in a matter of 5 minutes after showing up over 2 hours early for an appointment. Dr. Jhingran asked Mom how she was tolerating her radiation and informed us how to taper Mom off of her steroids now as we wind down the treatments. She also prescribed Mom more antibiotics to further treat Mom’s stubborn upper respiratory infection. Dr. Jhingran also let Mom know she agrees with her decision to try the chemo because “everyone responds differently to treatment and you never know”.
On our way out of her office the she called the treatment team and told them to fit Mom in ASAP since Mom was already in the building. Within 15 minutes Mom was getting her radiation treatment a full 3 hours early. We were back at the hotel by 2:30 and Mom got to rest the remainder of the day.
See you guys this weekend.
January 14th, 2014
Here’s a little update on Mom and some new news. She is really starting to feel the full force of the fatigue from the radiation. She’s good in spurts but tires out quickly. Also today we visited Dr. Frumovitz’s office to drop off some paperwork for her work and also to let them know to go ahead and setup Mom with Dr. Broussard back home in Lake Charles for her chemotherapy treatments. That’s right, Mom has decided to try the chemo treatments and see how well her body can handle it all.
Tomorrow I have my girlfriend Kelli visiting for the day to let me show her the MD Anderson experience and to be a great pick-me-up mid-week for Mom and I as a familiar face is always welcome.
3 more nights and 3 more treatments to go!
January 13th, 2014
We are back in Houston ready for the home stretch of Mom’s full-brain radiation treatments. She had a great time in Fort Worth over the weekend with Traci and the kids. She got to watch Sam’s basketball game, get a pedicure / spa day, watch Sam and Abigail get baptized, and do a little shopping and eating. All in all I would say the weekend was a success from what I hear about it. We got back today just in time for Mom’s 6th treatment meaning she is over halfway done with the 10 radiation treatments. Mom also received a Z-Pak for a sinus infection that had been bothering her to no end and that has helped with her overall discomfort greatly.
Tomorrow will be a nice day of rest as we have nothing until late in the afternoon other than calling and lining-up paperwork for Mom’s leave of absence paper work and possible chemotherapy papers transferred to Lake Charles. Feel free to give her a call and just catch up as she’s feeling fairly well other than tired right now. Also don’t forget to check her schedule on this website to see when she’ll be unavailable to talk.
We’ll be back in Sulphur for the foreseeable future Friday only returning to Houston for future follow-up visits.
January 10th, 2014
We are off to a VERY early start this morning. Mom wanted to go see Traci and the kids so we worked out a much earlier time for her treatment today (6:45 AM!). That way I could drive Mom halfway up to Fort Worth to meet Traci and then I can head back to Sulphur for the weekend. Mom will spend the weekend up there getting to see one of Sams’s basketball games and even get to go to a special church service for Sam and Abigail Sunday morning. I will drive from Sulphur up to Fort Worth Sunday evening to bring Mom back down here to Houston Monday morning.
I’m glad it worked out where she could have a mini vacation with the family between weeks of treatments. She is handling the radiation well so far and I will update more as the situation develops.
Thanks and love you all!
January 9th, 2014
Today is the first day since Mom’s current round of troubles that she has gotten to see her primary doctor in Houston Dr. Frumovitz. He is the lead of the team treating Mom and we got to see him today in his consultation office for a good 20 – 30 minutes. Mom and I had lots of questions for him and after he explained the extend of Mom’s current illness was happy to answer them all. He confirmed that this was the same cancer she had before and that “it is most likely not curable”. Mom asked him which areas is he most concerned about and he said the lungs and liver and said neither were viable for further radiation treatments just the chemotherapy to try and control them.
He is referring Mom to Dr. Broussard in Lake Charles for the chemotherapy but the plan is not finalized as Mom asked a question that may affect the treatment plan. Mom was persistent in asking Dr. Frumovitz for a length of time “she has left”. He reluctantly gave us the average of what he would expect 1000 of his patients with this type and progression of cancer to experience with and without chemotherapy. Mom now has the decision to make balancing quality vs. quantity of life. He recommends chemo but said “You won’t get a fight from me if you decide against it”. He also cancelled the spine MRI that was scheduled this afternoon as the results of whether there was anything in the bone would not affect the recommended course of action.
Thanks for the thoughts and prayers and we’ll be home tomorrow evening though Monday to return for Mom’s last week of full-brain radiation treatments that will shrink greatly if not totally remove the lesions from the brain.
January 7th, 2014
Today is a pretty slow day as all we have is a quick radiation treatment at 5:30 this evening. There is plenty to update you guys on though. I’ll start with Mom’s experience with her first treatment of full-brain radiation. As you can see from the image to the right showing a mask similar to what Mom has to wear she is tightly bolted down to the radiation table for the duration of each treatment to limit exposure to undesired areas. Mom said the tight pressure on her nose and not being able to move at all did get to her and they may have to calm her nerves medicinally for each treatment. She did make it through and has yet to report any side-effects. She also wanted to go shop at the local Super Target for supplies for the week and walked the entire store like a champ.
We also have much more details on the results of her CT and MRI scans. The reports have been posted, in full medical terminology, for us to view. I will do my best to summarize what the very detailed reports say.
I’ll start with the MRI of her head on 12/29/2013.
- Her first small lesion is in the left posterior frontal-parietal lobe and is 0.5 cm ( less than 1/4 inch) in size. It is noted that there is “very minimal surrounding edema” (very little local swelling) and the lateral ventricles of the brain are normal and there is no mid-line shift of the brain.
- A second lesion of the same 0.5 cm size is noted near the atrium of the left lateral ventricle also with very little edema noted.
- Also seen is a “tiny” 3mm ( less than 1/8 inch ) lesion in the left anterior-inferior frontal lobe.
- The report also goes on to mention the possible existence of even smaller “dots” that may or not be more lesions. This is consistent to what the resident doctor told us yesterday that there may be microscopic lesions in the brain and after the full-brain radiation and also after the chemo for the rest of the tumors in the body that MD Anderson will look at another MRI and decide whether to do local high-dose focused radiation on spots in the brain or hopefully see that the full-brain radiation and chemo has taken care of the visible lesions.
- …and her tonsils were swollen. Thinking this was due to her ongoing sickness and RSV she was battling hard at the time.
CT scan of her chest, abdomen, and pelvis 12/29/13.
- “Lung Bases: Numerous pulmonary nodules ranging in size from 2-3 mm to a bit over 10 mm are new since 2010 and are consistent with metastatic disease.” – Small nodules up to 1 cm ( ~ 3/8 inch ) in size in the lungs.
- “Liver: Several new hypodensities located in both lobes are suspicious for metastatic disease… …The largest is in the left lobe near the hilum and measures 19 mm.” – Spots in the liver with the largest being 19 mm ( 3/4 inch ) in size. I assume this is why they decided to do the biopsy from the liver after these findings.
- The report goes on the say the spleen, gallbladder (absent), adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, bones, bowel, and reproductive system (what’s left of it LOL) are all “unremarkable” – AKA they show no signs of cancer.
CT scan done in Lake Charles on 12/23/13 done to determine the cause of her voice problems and found the cancer for the first time.
- Bilateral nodules found in the lungs with it estimating the maximum size with a 1.3 cm (~1/2 inch) nodule in the right anterior chest wall. This is consistent to the more recent scans above.
- “Adenopathy is seen in the bilateral paratracheal” – This is most likely what is paralyzing Mom’s left vocal chord as it would be blocking the signals traveling on her laryngeal nerve.
- This scan also found the largest lesion in the liver.
That’s my attempt at translating the raw data and inter-stitching with knowledge of what the doctors have said. If you are a medical professional and want the full copy of the reports let us know and if Mom OKs it I will send them to you.