June 2009


The radiation treatments have been easy and quick. It’s completely painless. This morning it felt like I was finally getting a clearer airway.

Last week, Dr B referred me to the City of Hope and another cancer center in the LA area. The idea is to try a clinical trial before going on to the next standard treatment. Gathering my records has been a huge and frustrating chore. They were spread all over the place. When I got a call that there was a cancellation at the City of Hope, I changed my radiation appt. and scrambled to get it all together.

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It’s been four weeks since my last chemo. I’ve been working a lot lately and then last week, took time off to join Ken on a work trip to Shanghai. We had a great time. I always enjoy traveling with him. He always sees so much more than I do. He has such a sharp eye and I with all he shares I enjoy a much richer experience. Of course he had to work most of the time. But we were lucky to have all the evenings and an group outing together. A cold and fever put me out of circulation for a day.  It gave me a chance to read and relax. I picked up a book Ken had brought along, Lone Survivor. It’s a fast read about a SEAL teams’ experience in Afghanistan. The cough is still with me.

Monday Ken accompanied me to my routine CT. In the evening we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with a special dinner at Mr A’s. It was wonderful to remember our incredible day and all those that shared it with us.

Today we saw Dr B for the results. It was not anything I expected. The Taxotere quit working and my tumors have grown and there are new ones. The main one is about 2″ in diameter. My cough (which started a few days before we left for China) was attributed to the tumor blocking one of my airways. It’s given me a “Darth Vader” sound when breathing. It is leaving me short of breath. I’ve got an inhaler to help. This problem will be treated with radiation. The plan is to shrink it dramatically and hope it will stay small for quite a while. It can then be retreated as needed.

This is only tumor that is practical to treat this way. Chemo treatment is needed for the rest. The problem is which one. I’ve now exhausted 3 of the 6 traditional available treatments. Dr B advises I check into clinical trials available at the City of Hope and USC Norris. I am more likely to be eligible now than if I wait and use the other treatments now. We’ll be using the time while going through radiation treatment to meet with the oncologists and see which, I am eligible for. Then we’ll discuss the choices with Dr B.

I hope it will go quickly. With the tumor growth I’ve had with Taxotere, I don’t like getting no treatment at all for even a short while.

It was such an unexpected setback – and such a big one. For now, Ken and I are too stunned by the news and busy with all the new plans and appointments to be fully hit by it. At times we both struggle not to cry.

Today we’ve already met with a radiologist at the Cancer Center, had a preparation session (for my marker tattoos), and had my first treatment. I have treatments scheduled for the next two weeks – daily except for weekends. It only takes about 20 minutes and there is no pain at all. The most common side effects are  fatigue and, due to the area treated, a sore throat. My cough and shortness of breath will possibly get worse for a few days before it starts to improve.