Monthly Archives: January 2010

Update/clarification

After the last update, I thought I would try to clarify what all is going on.  I am continuing to enjoy my little break from all procedures(no chemo).  That being said, I have my 4th scan in 3 weeks this Friday.  Apparently they need yet another CT scan of the liver.  Apparently this one is somewhat different from my CT scan a couple weeks ago.  I then will have the angiogram about 10 days after that.  Then about 1o days after that, I will have the radiation treatment.  The angiogram and radiation treatment are both outpatient procedures, taking about 6 hours total each time.

Outside of my cancer world… I continue to work full time, teach Sunday School and now work on Tuesday nights with a group at our church called Celebrate Recovery.  The attendees are facing any number of challenges in their lives(addictions, divorce, single parenting, abuse etc…)  My job(along with 2 other prayer partners) is too be available for individual prayer anytime one of the participants needs it.

Karen and the boys are doing well.  They all are taking up Tae Kwon Do.  I am guessing that I will soon become their sparring/test dummy for the things they learn.

Lastly-it looks/feels like I may be catching a Cold.  It would be the first time in 18-20 months if that was the case.  Right now I have the scratchy throat and body aches.  Stay tuned…

Thank you for all the uplifting comments and prayers.

The long journey continues,

Chris

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Something changed…?

Something seems to have changed since my CT or the quality difference between that and the MRI.

I had the MRI done and the results were pretty positive.   Dr. Sielaff said he was very happy with what the scans showed and what the chemotherapy had done.  The scan showed that the tumor had shrunk vs. what the CT had shown.  But still not enough.  Also, the PET scan basically showed that there was little to no cancer activity going on inside the tumors!!!

But there is still that 1 tumor in a bad place.  There is now some separation between the tumor and the bile ducts.  But the tumor as he says, “is still in a high rent district”.  What he wants is enough separation that he can get clear margins (i.e. when he does the surgery he not only takes out the tumor but also some healthy tissue surrounding it).  If I was out of options he could try and do the surgery now, but I still have options.  Dr. Sielaff called Dr. Duane(my Oncologist)  and they felt my body was getting too toxic from the chemo., so no more chemo for the time being.  Dr. Sielaff then explained that it was now time to try some radiation.  So I was quickly whisked out of his office and over to the Radiologists office.  They recommended SIRT (Selective Internal Radiation Therapy) for my tumor.  What they do is go up through an artery in my leg and drop beads of radiation in the blood stream that goes up to the liver.  The beads of radiation apparently attack the cancer cells further breaking them down.  This type of radiation is given to only people with disease on their liver and only if they don’t have too much disease.  The first step is an initial evaluation of blood work, scans(MRI/PET) and general health.  The second step is an angiogram in which they analyze the flow of blood between the liver and the lungs.  If the liver is sending the lungs too much of its blood then they can’t do the procedure as the radiation will damage the lungs.  The third step is the actual procedure.  The procedure takes about 90 minutes but there is prep time and recovery time, so that the whole process takes about 6 hours.  I am only partially put under for the procedure-similar to a colonoscopy.  The side effects vary widely from feeling nothing the next day, to others who get a fever and feel like they have the flu for most of a week.  Then they wait 3 months before they do a scan to see what the results are.  If everything goes the way Dr. Sielaff envisions it will, then he would be able to remove the last tumor(s) sometime in June.

One very interesting note came out during the evaluation by the radiologist.  She said they usually have a target amount of radiation they administer based on the PET scan results showing how much cancer the patient has.   She said colon cancer cells really light up PET scans well, but mine really didn’t light up.   She then said,  “your PET scan basically shows no sign of disease.” I am still in shock of that statement.  The MRI and CT still show that the tumors exist, but they seem/appear almost dead.

We still move forward with all the procedures as the concern is that the tumors are not completely dead and their may be newer/smaller cells growing next to them.

It was a very positive/overwhelming day.  I still haven’t fully processed it myself but wanted to share it with you.  It is only by God’s Grace that I am where I am now.  Still a long road ahead, but Goliath just took a whipping today and it had nothing to do with me…

Be blessed for your faithful prayers, comments and thoughts.

Chris

p.s.  Keep those prayers coming.  If you didn’t get a chance, read Vicki’s comments from that last post.

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Nurses talk

I still haven’t heard the official word from my doctors.  However I have now talked to 2 different nurses and have gotten some information.  The main tumor that we wanted to shrink, hasn’t changed since Nov.  So I still have two tumors and the main one is still only 20-25% vs. 50% down which was the goal.  The good news is that the PET scan showed less cancer activity within the tumor.  Also, there is no sign of disease anywhere else in my body.  The scan you from your head through your knees.  So, I don’t know the official plan yet.  I think there are 3 ways they could go:  more chemo, radiation, or attempt a surgery.  The second nurse called me today and said that Dr. Sielaff (my surgeon) wants me to have an MRI on Thursday.  So that means the surgeon wants a very close look at one is going on with that tumor.  It may mean he wants to move to some sort of surgery/procedure or something vs. going right back to chemo.  That is as much as I know at this time.  I wanted to put a quick post out to let you know where things are sitting.  Not quite sure why I haven’t heard from either doctor, but at this point it looks like things are now dependent on the next scan.  Following my MRI on Thursday I will meet with Dr. Sielaff to review my scans and what he is thinking.  I have to be honest, anything not involving chemo right now sounds great.  I am feeling great, peaceful and patient.  It’s all in God’s hands.

Baty

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Time to wait

The scans went well on Friday, but I am not sure when I will find out the results.  I am supposed to review them next Thursday the 21st, but hopefully will find out sooner.  I would think that they will be able to tell me something on Monday/Tuesday over the phone.  I am enjoying my time away from chemo and just trying to get healthier and stronger.  The hat I am wearing in the photo was knitted by a friend of mine-Lisa Coleman.  It says “Sisu” all the way around it and was made in the Vikings colors.  That is the sign of a true friend, as she is a Wisconsin girl and of course a Packer fan.

The two photos below are just pictures of the guys and Karen I found.  I thought they were cute so I put them in.

Thank you for all your comments and prayers.  I will post my scan results as soon as I know them.

Chris

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No Round 9 of chemo

Last Tuesday I was awake for 2 hours in the middle of the night.   I got this sudden thought or Word in my head that chemo wasn’t going to happen this time.  The next day I told my wife,  Jeannie (my friend at work) and later Jill(my sister-in-law) that chemo. wasn’t going to happen this week.  I told them something was going to happen-that either my blood work wasn’t going to be good or someone or something was going to intercede with me having chemo.  this time.  And that is what happened!

My Dad drove me to chemo like normal today.  On my way there I told him too that I didn’t think it was going to happen.  Dr. Duane (my Oncologist) came in and we started reviewing how my last round went.  He generally goes over all the main issues that happen to me(bleeding/bowel issues/mouth and throat sores/fatigue/nausea).  Step by step as we went through them he learned that all of the side effects were stronger and getting worse.  That being said, I told him that I still worked 45 hours last week, taught Sunday school and still took part in all my family activities etc…  We then got the blood work back and one number came back lower-the white blood cell count.  That number has been steadily dropping, it was at 2.9.  That in and by itself would not hold back chemo, but it was borderline.  My platelets actually rebounded.  A third determining factor for him(which we already knew) was that my surgeon was going to be out of town for my next scan on Jan. 25th.  So the plan was that his associate would review the results and make the big decision if we move to surgery or if we stick with chemo.  Dr. Duane said, “Chris I know how strong and determined you are, but I don’t think that we should do chemo today.”  “I think we should move up the scans and not do another round.”

So we are doing scans this Friday-send your good thoughts and prayers my way for Friday.  Specifically what we are looking for:  no spread of the cancer, no new growths  and that the largest tumor is reduced greater than 50% or of course that it is completely gone.  I am not sure how quickly I will learn the results.

Now I am just loving life away from chemo!  It has been a tough 4 months of non-stop rounds.  Sarah and Pete were nice enough to again come down tonight and take care of the guys so we went out to eat and even Mall walked-a little I still have no strength or stamina.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and thoughts.  We really appreciate them and need them.  By the way, listen when you get Word from up above.

Loving Life in Lakeville,

Chris

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Happy New Year

Sorry for the delayed greeting.  Life continues on as “normal”.  I had chemo on the 30th of Dec. so I laid pretty low going into the new year.  It almost felt appropriate to send off the old year with my chemo bottle attached to my side, curled up in a blanket by myself dealing with the effects of the chemicals.  Karen and the boys were kind enough to head East(WI) for the holiday so I could try and maximize my rest.  End of the year/Beginning of the year is definitely a time to look both forward and back.  So on looking back over the past year+, I thought I would share a couple  numbers with you:

0                The number of colds or flu I caught in 2009.

15%           That is the amount of hair left on my head.  Brenden says to not shave it off, so I keep it.

10              That is the amount of weeks out of 72 weeks that I have actually felt close to normal since I began my journey with cancer and my first surgery.

1                 Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where my name was read thanks to Marie and Joyce Berger.  This of course is the church that is built over the location where Jesus was born.

23-0         My undefeated record for walking into the valley of chemo and taking on my giant.

27 in 17     In 17 months I have had 23 rounds of chemo plus 3 major surgeries and 1 minor surgery.  I am still standing, working, and loving being a Dad and Husband to my family.  God just keeps lifting me up when I get knocked down, so I keep going!

My plans/resolutions for 2010:  More time spent with family and friends.  More time helping others in need.  I wasted too much time in front of the TV recovering from everything in 2009, I am ready to get moving.  Also I think you need to hear more from others on this blog, so I may invite Karen and my brother to post sometimes…

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.  I hope God blesses all of us in 2010, 2009 was a bit rough.

Chris

p.s.  Here is just a couple pictures from the holidays…

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