Monthly Archives: February 2009

Fury Unleashed

The new chemo regiment that I am on is called Folfiri vs. Folfox which I was on before.  I just prefer the spelling (fury), listed above, because that is what I feel the cancer cells are feeling right now.  For this session it was very similar to what I had before.  Yesterdays  infusion was a mix of chemicals, atrapene, zofran, a steroid, Leucovorin, Irinotecan and FU5.  Like last time, I go home with a needle in my chest with a tube connected to a bottle which continues to infuse 46 hours more of FU5.  I had a great nurse who answered all of my questions and gave me some great advice for how I would feel with this mix.  The next session they add the Avastin to the mix.    I felt light headed and a little tired as soon as they started to infuse me with the drugs at the hospital.  By the time I left my body steadied itself pretty well and I had no problem driving myself home from the hospital.  I was feeling so well, initially, when I got home I decided to take a 3 mile walk as it was nice outside.  Later last night I started to feel the effects.  I turned ghostly white, my eyes dialated and are started to sink lower and lower into the couch.  By around 7:30 p.m. I had enough and laid down.  My stomach felt very uneasy so I started on more Zofran right away.  It felt good to be horizontal but I hardly slept last night, not sure why.   Overall I am doing o.k., but feeling a little run over.

Chris

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Update

Hello all,

Karen is doing well and her head is feeling better.  She rested up a little this weekend so she could once again take on a full week of work, be super Mom to the boys and prepare for me going back on chemo-not sure how she does it all and holds it all together-it must be all those prayers from you for her.  Thank you!

Last night was a fantastic night at the Pray for the Cure meeting.  The support, love and wisdom that people shared there was awe inspiring.  I was surrounded in love (literally) as I sat between Brian Banick and John Osterberg.  John shared his story and some of the revelations he discovered during his battle with  Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  Again this is an open invitation, you are all welcome to attend.  These meetings are held once a month-the 3rd Monday (normally-last night was an exception) of every month in the prayer chapel at Hosanna here in Lakeville.  The stories, prayers and people who facilitate it are amazing!

Tomorrow it is time for chemo again. My Dad is providing love, support and company again for this visit.   My Oncologist called today to let me know that the drug Erbitux will not work against my cancer.  In fact if given to me with Avastin, it is shown to actually spread and grow cancer-very weird.  In some people it works great and kills it off and in other  bodies it helps it grow.   The main drug I get tomorrow is called Irinotecan.  The drug series that I will be given is called Folfury vs. I was on Folfox before. We won’t add Avastin to the mix until the second treatment.

Thank you for all your prayers-we are truly blessed to have all of you walking with us on this journey.  It really makes it easier for us to deal with knowing that we are surrounded by so much love.

Chris

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Karen decides to play the patient role…again

Yesterday Karen had the unfortunate experience of having a picture fall off the wall on her at work.  Yes I know,  only in this family.  The picture some how fell at an angle so the corner of the frame cut open her scalp.  She had to go to the emergency room and get 5 stitches put in.  She had a pretty good headache the rest of the night and spent most of it in bed with ice on her head.  Again, only in our family.  Jaxson seems to have beaten his strep throat, just in time to add a cold to his list of health issues.  Brenden is doing fine and I am healing really well.  I feel almost as strong as I did prior to my first surgery-just in time to throw some chemo into my body.

One thing I forgot to mention about the next set of chemicals, they don’t cause neuropathy.  The last one’s I was on did and I am still dealing with those effects.  In fact 30% of the surface area of my feet I can’t feel and all of my finger tips right next to the nail have lost feeling.  All of this actually got worse after I was off the chemo.  I read about ths on-line and talked to the Oncologist about it.  There is a chance I will lose the feeling permanently, but more than likely it will come back in a year or two.  Also those drugs were the one’s that made it hard to be around or touch anything cold or drink anything cold-again I will not have to worry about those side effects from the upcoming drugs.  I know, little consolation compared to all the other side effects I will have, but  will take anything I can get.

Thank you for all your donations to the upcoming 5k.  Also thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I have Pray for a Cure coming up this next Monday night at Hosanna Church.  Anyone wanting to come is more than welcome.  It is Monday night from 7-9 p.m.  A friend of mine, John Osterberg, will be there to share his story.

God Bless,

Chris

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Next Phase

I met with my Oncologist today and he laid out the next phase in the battle.  We need to finish what we started so, it is chemo. time again.  He has decided that the regiment I was previously on had maxed out the benefits for me.  That Oxalplatin regiment does most of its damage right away and then it tends to get less effective.  So today was introduction day to some new drugs.  All of the drugs have their own personalities and all attack cancer in a different way-also they all have their own yucky side-effects.

The first Dr. Duane mentioned was Camptosar or Irinotecan.  This drug has been around since 1994.  Irinotecan inhibits DNA replication and transcription, i.e. the cancer can’t replicate and grow itself.  The side effects for this drug:  severe diarrhea(this hits immediately like during the infusion itself), hair loss, and it really hits your immune system hard-so your white blood cells crash and it makes it harder for you to fight off illnesses.

The second one he told me about was Avastin.  Avastin has been around since 2004.  This drung inhibits tumor growth as it blocks the formation of new red blood vessels.  The side effects of this one are:  hair loss, bloody noses, poor blood clotting and high blood pressure.  Again this causes you to be more susceptible to illnesses.

The third drug he told me about is Erbitux.  Erbitux was introduced by a company called ImClone systems.  This is the drug and the company that Martha Stewart got caught up in and eventually was jailed due to insider trading.  When it was first introduced Marth had lots of shares and was ready to cash in.  But when she found out the FDA wasn’t going to aprove it she quickly tried to dump her shares which looked extremely conspicous and eventually led to her being jailed.  Erbitux was later approved in and has been available since 2004.  This drug really only works on certain types of colon cancer patients.  They are doing a test on my type of cancer right now, so I may not even be eligible for this drug.  They think they will have my test results on Friday.  The side effects of this drug are:  hair loss, skin rashes/lesions/acne on the back, chest and face.  This drug makes your skin very sensitive to sunlight.

Each of these drug regiments would be similar to the one I had before.  I will go in on a Wed., do bloodwork, receive the treatment, then go home with a take home bottle that will continue to give me the chemo drug FU5 for 46 more hours.  Then I go back in on Friday an get my pump disconnected.  The regiment would be every two weeks.

At this point I thought it was decision time for he and I to choose which chemo (and side effects) would be the one for me.  My doctor made it easy and decided that I will go on all 3 of these at the same time!  I jokingly questioned what would become of me-no hair, skin rashes on my face/back and chest, constant diarrhea and bleeding from my nose.  Doesn’t that paint a pretty picture?  My doctor sad that I was in great health(minus this whole cancer thing) and spirits and felt that it was a good time to be aggressive.  The plan is for me to have 3-4 chemo sessions and then do the next scan.  He said that we may do as many as 6 sessions before we attempt surgery again.  Ultimately he wants the surgery to be easier for Dr. Sielaff, thereby making it easier on me.  One other important note…the doctor said that the current chemo drugs don’t cure Colon Cancer-it only reduces it or stunts its growth.  It can shrink it down to almost nothing but never completely irradicates it.

So there you have it my chemo vacation is about to end along with my outward appearance of looking “normal” through the first part of this battle.  I start the new regiment next Wed.-the 25th.  Karen and I need to start working on the boys to prepare them for Daddy with no hair.  I will definitely need some type of cap for that April 5k Get Your Rear in Gear.

Speaking of the 5K, you can bring strollers for kids whether walking or running.  If you are running with a stroller, they just ask you to stay near the rear.… Rear-get it? Just a little colon cancer humor for you(with that type of humor Kent Bahr is proudly saying, “That’s my boy”).

Thanks for listening, thinking and praying about me and my family!

Chris

Phillipians 1:6 (I’ll let you look it up and interpret its relevance)

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Happy Belated Valentine’s Day

Life is good.  I have been enjoying these past 4 days recuperating from my mini-surgery.  For the first time this morning I woke up and didn’t have any significant pain from the three holes they put in me.  My abdomen has three new woulds and several green purple bruise marks from the work they did.  Karen’s mom was nice enough to stay with us through this coming Tuesday morning.  Talk about being spoiled!  The guys in the family having been moving slowly.  Brenden started the week off with the flu and Jaxson ended the week off with Strep Throat.  All of that combined with me walking around on vicodin added up to Grandma extending her stay.  Karen has worked every day since my surgery so it has been alot of Grandma and the boys hanging out together.  Brenden and I did rally enough to go to the birthday celebration yesterday at Dave’s house.  Zane, the perfect nephew, turned two yesterday.  Zane is the kid that was predicted to have all kinds of abnormalities based on his ultrasounds.  Here we are two plus years later following lots of faithful prayers and the kid is perfectly normal.  The only thing abnormal is that he has phenomenal hand eye coordination for a two year old.  I love Brenden, Jaxson, Caden Kaci and Kylie to death but I can tell you right now Zane is going to probably be better than all of them when it comes to sports.  The birthday boy was showing off his ball handling skills again yesterday. Spending time at Dave’s place also gave me time to get caught up with a fellow cancer patient-Jill’s Mom Sharon.  Sharon is another Stage 4 patient.  It is her story to tell, but briefly I will tell you that she was diagnosed in Nov. with small cell carcinoma.  She has had one surgery and is also on chemo.  She looked great despite the heavy treatments she has been receiving.  My Step mother Debby didn’t make it but is also doing well since her diagnosis of Breast Cancer and her subsequent surgeries and treatments.  Debby right now is cancer free.  A year ago we had no cancer in our family and today it seems like I am surrounded by it.  That being said we are all doing well and are very strong.

Tomorrow I head back to work.  Tuesday I meet with my Oncologist to lay out the next plan of treatment.  I can’t wait to see what they have in store for me next.   I did talk to my doctors nurse on Friday and she said I wouldn’t be back on the chemo for another 10-12 days.

I am loving life and enjoying all this family time right now.  The boys are getting spoiled with all this Daddy time.  Thank you for all your prayers!  May God bless you all.

Chris

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A Word from the Patient

Good Morning All!

Karen must have paid Dr. Sielaff a bunch of money to put this surgery off so I would be home on Valentine’s Day.  I think her and my nephew Zane must have worked out quite the deal so I wouldn’t miss Zane’s big birthday party on Saturday.

Yesterday was a bit disappointing, but not all bad.  Dr. Sielaff and his team now know exactly what we are dealing with.  It was good to find out that there was no new tumors both on the liver or elsewhere.  He actually biposied part of the intestinal lining as he saw some white spots on it, those turned out to be negative.  Also it was good news, as Sarah noted, that one of the largest tumors he found was non-cancerous.  That knowledge will give him more options when we head for surgery next time.

Prior to surgery yesterday Dr. Sielaff came in and visited with myself and the rest of the family.  He had decided that this surgery should be done in two phases.  The first phase would be removing the left lobe and possibly making a couple other cuts.  The second surgery would be going after the remaining tumors.  The reason he felt it would be necessary to do it in two phases is that he felt he wouldn’t be able to cut that much off in one surgery and have myself and my liver survive.  What he discovered during the laproscopic portion of the surgery was that the tumors had grown over the past 6 weeks while I have been off chemo.  He projected it would take 6-8 weeks for me to recover from the first surgery.   That length of total time would give the tumors that hadn’t been removed and hadn’t been treated with chemo. too much time to grow even larger.  He consulted with my Oncol0gist and several doctors on his team before making the decision not to operate.  What he and we are hoping is that by going back on the chemo we can further reduce the size or number of tumors so that he can do the entire surgery at one time.   The six remaining tumors are still on all sides of the liver, so ideally we would get them narrowed down to one side or the other.  Dr. Sielaff said he still plans to do surgery and expects me to be back at Abbott in 3-4 months.  I like that positive thinking.

The plan is to get back on the chemo probably next week.  I will talk to Dr. Duane today.  Dr. Duane may set me up with a different chemical mix.  Dr. Sielaff actually felt that the chemo could have done more and should od more than it already has.  I started with 12 tumors and am down to 6 so I don’t think it has done too bad so far.  My life is still in God’s hands but it is in Dr. Duane chemistry set for now.  I would guess we will do 3-4 treatments every two weeks and then do another scan to see how well the new chemical mix is working.

I thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts for myself and my family.  Thanks to Pastor Pat and two of my guardian angels(Pat G. and Vicki S.) for joining my wife and family in the waiting room yesterday.  This is a time for patience and it is time for this cancer to realize I am a very patient person.  Sit back and enjoy, this battle is far from over and I am feeling stronger than ever.  I think this Vicodin helps.

In God’s hands,

Chris

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Post-surgery update

Chris was in recovery for quite a while today dealing with some nauseousness, but he did make it home tonight.  It sounds like he was in surgery for almost 2.5 hrs today and his doctor said they did a lot of poking and prodding, so he’ll need a lot of rest over the next few days.  Karen said Chris is exhausted and went straight to bed.  The doctor gave him strict orders to NOT go to work tomorrow, and probably Friday as well.

I’m sure Chris will post some more details as soon as he’s feeling up to it.

Thanks again for keeping up with Chris via the blog!

Sarah

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