Friday, October 31, 2008

Rough Last 2 Weeks

I caught some kind of upper respiratory infection a few weeks ago. Since then I have had a persistent cough that has culminated in severe back pain. I had to go back on medical leave and the past few days I have spent mostly in bed. I have medication that relieves the pain. Deb and my parents have been with me this week, helping me during the day.

We are not certain what path of treatment is next for me. I have a clinical trial consultation on Nov 3rd at Karmanos. We have also investigated targeted radiation therapy at U of M and will be meeting their doctors on Nov 4th.

Today is Halloween... Landon's costume is a Transformer (robots in disguise) while Morgan is dressing up as a ballerina.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Scan Results after Biotherapy Treatment

Deb and I had our follow up visit with Dr. Flaherty this morning to discuss the results of my MRI (brain) and CT (abdomen) scans. The good news is that there is no evidence of metastatic tumors in my brain.

Unfortunately we didn't get the positive news we had hoped from the CT scan. The tumor in my liver remains ~ 9cm in diameter, which is slightly smaller than a grapefruit. The official analysis of the scan states the liver tumor is larger than my last scan (July 11), but the reported measurements are nearly identical. I suppose it really doesn't matter if it is slightly larger or not, since I still have to deal with it regardless. The pre-existing tumor in my lung remained the same size as before ~ 3.5cm in diameter, which is slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. However, an additional tumor in my lung was detected in this scan, also measuring 3.5cm in diameter.

The bottom line is IL-2 biotherapy was ineffective in treating my Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. We are now going to look at my experimental drug options (known as Phase 1 trials). Deb and I will be meeting with doctors from Karmanos who specialize in selecting specific drugs for cancer patients who haven't responded to existing therapies. This meeting will be in the next 2 weeks and treatment will start soon after. If I decide not to enroll in a Phase 1 trial or if I have to wait for a trial to open, there are chemotherapy drugs that are available, but these would only be for slowing the progression of the cancer.

As you may imagine, Deb and I returned home with heavy hearts this afternoon. We had felt that my recent improvements in health would be reflective of my internal battle with cancer.

- I have a very small risk of near-term organ failure
- I have a number of options in my next "at-bat" against cancer.

Please keep us in your prayers as we have difficult decisions to make in the next few weeks.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pushing Scans and Results Back a Week

Ever since I returned home from my second stay in the hospital for IL-2 treatments Deb and I have had in our minds that my follow up scans were on Friday October 3rd. When I was getting all of my paperwork together on the evening of October 2nd, I noticed that my scans were actually scheduled for 7am that morning! Deb and I couldn't believe that we missed this. I guess we just got on with our life during this period of time and didn't think too much about these tests.

My MRI and CT scans have been re-scheduled to next week. We will be reviewing the results of the scans on October 14th with Dr. Flaherty. Basically everything has been moved back 1 week.

I am feeling the healthiest I have been since my diagnosis last December. Nearly all of the residual pain in my left lung has vanished. My strength and stamina grows every day. Last weekend our family spent time at a cottage on Lake Michigan. I bounced on a trampoline with the twins, took them on a kayak ride in the great lake, and we all climbed up / ran down a sand dune together. I thank God for giving me the strength to make such joyful memories.

Thanks to all for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray specifically that the scan results will be unbelievably positive.