Monthly Archives: September 2009

Round 1 or Round 16?-either way it is over.

I survived my latest trip on the chemo drugs.  My infusion day was pretty rough, just because I was feeling so good and healthy going in.  I got just enough sleep each day to help me get by.  Karen was actually sick with the stomach flu on day 1, so Karen’s Mom had to come save the day again.  Karen was upstairs in bed sick while I was stuck on the coach.  We used our cell phones to communicate throughout the afternoon/evening.

The side effects I feel on this regiment:  heart burn, stomach ache, head ache, nausea, raspy voice, dizzy, muscle spasms, sore throat, cold sores, hair loss(although not yet) diarrhea and constipation.  I am feeling good right now, but similar to a pregnant mother.  I want to snack all the time to try and alleviate the yucky feeling once my stomach gets empty.

I stumbled upon James 1 two weeks ago and found it fitting:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Honestly I have to tell you that I don’t feel great joy while I am on chemo.  But I do feel it once I have bounced back, and that I am so thankful for.  They can keep throwing stuff at me and I promise to keep getting back up!

Here is another picture of Jaxson trying to throw back every rock he could find on a beach.  This picture was taken at sunset in Grand Marais.  It was the 4th beach we had been to that day.  I asked him how in the world did God put all of these rocks on all of these beaches everywhere we went.  He looked at me stoically and said, “Because God is all powerful.”  He then turned back to the beach and kept throwing his rocks.  Something to think about…

DSCN0318

Thank you for all your love, prayers, thoughts and gifts.  We are doing well and continuing to battle through everything in front of us.

Chris

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Chemo Starts

Chemo begins again on Monday-the 21st.  It will be the same regiment and same schedule, FOLFIRI W/Avastin every 2 weeks. I will have a 4 hour infusion at the hospital and then go home with the chemo. bottle attached for a 46 hour continuous chemo infusion.  after the 46  hours I will go back in and get disconnected and get a Neulasta shot.  I will have a scan after 4 rounds, close to the middle of Nov.,  to see how it is working.  I am not working right now as Pictura had planned that I would be off for 5 weeks.  I have decided to move that to 6 weeks now, so that I can complete 3 full rounds of chemo before going back. Chemo dates right now:  Sept. 21, Oct. 6th and Oct. 20th.  I continue to get myself physically ready by taking all my Dr. Lish supplements.  My blood work should be ready to go!

Some Misc. Updates:

  • Our 10 year anniversary was yesterday the 18th.  I am amazingly blessed to have been married to this loving, beautiful woman this long.  While I have been sick during this cancer journey, she has taken care of:  cleaning, laundry, cooking, mowing, snow shoveling, the finances, taking care of the guys during at night when they have their bad dreams, getting them off to school and daycare while still working 40 hours a week to help pay the bills and maintain our insurances.  She truly is amazing and I thank God every day that she is my wife and the mother of my children.  It has been an awesome 10 years!  We actually celebrated early as we thought I would be in the hospital.  Last weekend we decided to do a last minute trip up the North Shore and had a great time.
  • We never found the nickel that Brenden swallowed.  Doctors said not to worry about it, that it would have passed by now without any problems.
  • On the last night of Jaxson’s T-Ball game he didn’t hit the coach in the rear again.  Instead he walked up to him and thanked him-even without his parents prompting.
  • Brenden moved into a small Fall soccer league and continues to love it.  I am having a tough time sitting on the side line watching and have been scolded by Brenden several times for coaching from the sideline.
  • The Garden Walk that was at Pat Groeper’s house was great and we received some special gifts from it.
  • Sarah, Karen’s sister, is still planning on getting married soon, but we don’t have a date yet.  She was waiting on the date to find out my schedule.
  • Brenden and Jaxson are both enjoying school.  Jaxson said the only part he doesn’t like is that he has to sit still so long.  Jaxson has already came home with a card from a girl. He thought he should give her a card back that had a heart on it and said “love Jaxson”.   Yeah we are in trouble already and he is only in Kindergarten.  Brenden says that 1st grade is the best grade ever.
  • Our families continue to help us a lot during this challenge.  My Dad makes it to almost all of my appointments.  He has been so omni-present at these appointments that Dr. Sielaff was surprised last month when he wasn’t there.  His comments were very fitting, “Where is the big guy?”  I explained that he was on a trip.  He then said, “I am just so used to him being here that I am kind of thrown off”.  “He really seems like a great guy to have on your side.”  I couldn’t help but feel very happy, proud and blessed.  Our Mom’s, my brother, sister and Karen’s sisters have helped us a lot along the way with taking care of the boys and moving in when we need them to.  Karen’s Dad and Rick have taken turns doing projects around the house when needed.
  • I have had a colon surgery, then 2 rounds of chemo, then another colon surgery, then 5 rounds of chemo and then a laproscopic surgery, then 8 rounds of chemo, then a liver surgery and now some chemo again.  Anyone detecting a pattern here?
  • My weight has been on a roller coaster these past 15 months.  I have ranged from 181 to 151 lbs.  Right now I am at 164 lbs.
  • I have hair, but for only a few more weeks.  I told the boys so they are ready for the transition back to baldness.

I have included a few pictures from the last couple of months.  I had forgotten that they had a couple pictures from my July surgery.  I will post next week after I survive round 1.  Thank you for all your gifts, prayers and thoughts.

Chris

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Surgery off, for now

I had a PET scan this morning and it showed that the bad tumor that the Dr. was concerned with really “lights up”, the smaller tumor did not “light up” as much.  “Light Up” means that the tumor is active and is absorbing sugars, thereby growing.  The doctors best guess is that the bad tumor has taken over the good tumors location, thereby getting too close to the bile ducts.  If he was to do the surgery it would be very risky and may permanently damage the liver, so it is back to chemotherapy.  My surgeon has already spoken to my Oncologist and my Oncologist is confident that since I had a good response before, I will have a good response again.  The plan is to get me back on chemo again and shrink that tumor so that he can safely do surgery in the future. The first question that comes to everyone’s mind, including mine, is how long will I have to be on chemotherapy.  The answer is, only God knows.  Last time it took 8 rounds and 4 months to get me in a good position for surgery, so I am guessing a time-line similar to that.  As I continually learn throughout this process, 2 steps forward, 1 step back.  The good news is that there were no other areas that lit up during all 3 of my scans.  Also, I will not be in the hospital for my 10 year wedding anniversary.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  It is time to charge forward into the next phase of this battle.

Chris

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the unknown

Just a quick post.   The doctors could see the tumors well enough on the MRI, so currently we are trying to get a PET scan set up for early next week to see if  surgery or chemo would be the best route.  That’s realy all we know for now.   We will post when we find out more.  Thanks for the prayers!

Karen

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Stay tuned

So I got the CT scan done today-they were 70 minutes behind schedule.  Almost immediately after the scan my Dad and I reviewed the results with Dr. Sielaff.  The new part of the liver has grown in well and is healthy.  The bad news is that the tumor that was in the bad location actually grew and grew closer to the veins/bile ducts-making it impossible to cut out.  He proceeded to pull up the scan and show us where it had grown.  Due to the growth, he felt it best not to do any surgery and for me to go back on chemo. right away.  He said he had already called Dr. Duane(my Oncologist) and had left him a message.  This is not how the story ends so bear with me. The 2nd tumor hadn’t grown at all.  Also there was a small abnormality that had shown up, but he was unsure if it was cancerous.  We all agreed that we were disappointed by the results.  I then asked if he could show me where my benign(good) tumor was, as I recalled it was next to the tumor that it was in the bad spot.  He looked at the scan again and tried to figure it out.  He actually started to realize he might have spoken too soon.  Both he and my Dad had forgotten about that tumor.  He started to guess/hypothesize that the good tumor was actually the piece that may have grown and that the bad tumor was actually in a location he could “melon ball” it out.  He actually seemed to get a little embarrassed as said he was glad that I felt comfortable enough to say, “Hey dummy aren’t you forgetting about something.”-which I would never say, as he is great.   The more he looked at it, the more he started to get convinced that the surgery may be back on.  The only way to truly determine, though, was to do an MRI right away.  The MRI couldn’t happen till later in the day, so I spent almost the whole day at Abbott.  Dr. Sielaff said he would call me tomorrow after sitting down with a Radiologist and let me know the results.  If the surgery happens it sounds like a lot less will be cut out.  I am guessing 15-20% vs. the 70% of the liver I had taken out last time.  He did say that he may have to cut into a new area of my abdomen.  I didn’t think I had any more untouched abdomen left….

Brenden and Jaxson are in school-sort of . Brenden came down with a severe case of Pink Eye so he already is going to have to miss 2 days.  So far the rest of us have avoided that, but I am not holding my breath.

Thanks for all your prayers.  Just a reminder the Hope Garden Walk to fight cancer is tomorrow-see my earlier post.  I will get a message posted tomorrow letting you know if it is chemo or surgery for me next week.

Chris

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Very Brief Post

My schedule got changed.  I was supposed to have my scan and appointment with Dr. Sielaff tomorrow morning.  However, Dr. Sielaff has to perform a surgery so I got moved back 1 week.  So I now have my scan and visit with Dr. Sielaff on Sept. 10th.  At that time he will look to see how everything has grown in and will get a view of just what he will be cutting the following week.  I am 90% sure they will go forward with the surgery on Sept. 16th.  They have not mentioned anything about pulling out of that.  I have a Pre-Op physical on Sept. 11th before we go to the Garden Walk.  I had a blood draw and appointment with Dr. Duane today.  He said I looked to be healing well.  My blood work wasn’t back to the normal ranges yet.  Though, he said it is what he expected given the surgery and recovery.

Overall I am feeling pretty good and continuing to heal nicely.

My prayers go out to:  Taisa and her family, Vicki with her surgery and Lindsay and Jeremy with their son Evan’s scan tomorrow.

Love and Prayers,

Chris

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