Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are we having fun yet?

Tuesday, May 29th had aligned itself to be my 50th chemo treatment and my 53rd birthday.  Well, it's still my birthday but now I have the pleasure of going to St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick for a liver biopsy instead of having a chemo treatment.  Sounds like fun, huh!?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

OK, now what?

After all of the waiting the PET/CT has come and gone and now we’re dealing with its aftermath since the results were not good.  For the first time since this saga began we’ve hit a chemo cocktail that didn’t bring positive results.

In February the scan showed metastases on my liver, as has been the case for 3 plus years, and we started a new set of chemo drugs that I had had before although not together.  And now after 3 months the largest metastasis is about twice the size.  So we’re scrambling to try and come up with a Plan B.  Since my staging is stage 4 the basic standard of care remains chemotherapy and it is the core of my treatment plan.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeking other potential treatment but the initial challenge is to try and come up with chemo drugs that we haven’t tried yet.  Since I’m now in year 5 coming up with new drugs to try is nearly impossible because I’ve had just about all of the different drugs at least once.

One thing we haven’t tried yet is to see if I have the HER2 or EGFR receptors.  Only around 30% of people have these receptors but if it turns out that I’m one of those then it opens the door to using drugs such as herceptin that have had good results.  So this is going to be our step 1 and that means that I’ll be having a liver biopsy to test for those receptors.  The biopsy will probably be next Wednesday, May 30th at St. Peter’s in New Brunswick.

I will also be looking to schedule an appointment with the Liver Metastases group of doctors at Sloan-Kettering.  I believe that this specific group didn’t exist until relatively recently and so I’m hoping to get some new perspective from them.

With all of that said the weather this past weekend was terrific.  And since I was scheduled to ride in an event that supported the Multiple Sclerosis Society and my friend Missy Gervasini I stubbornly held to that plan despite my not feeling that well physically.  The ride was a major physical challenge but I enjoyed riding the beginning miles with Missy and the remainder of the 20 miles with Bobby Wiener.  It was a fun day indeed.

On Sunday I had a ride scheduled with Grace, Stephanie, Dan, and Kathy so once again my “no rules” frame of mind won out and I was able to struggle through a 30-mile ride.  This was possible in large part to the magic massage skills of Kathy Lynch.

The numbers for both Mentschen team members and fundraising for LiveSTRONG are growing finally.  As always, if you can join us to walk, run, or ride that would be terrific.  Donations of any amount are deeply appreciated.  Click here to access myLiveSTRONG web page where you can either join us or donate.  THANKS!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's finally here

It seems like I've been waiting for this for an incredibly long time and finally it's here.
The PET/CT tomorrow is.....  well, huge.
Not much more that needs to be said.

I'll be back in touch here with the results as soon as I can.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Still plugging away

Before too much more time goes by, and before I have my treatment tomorrow, I’m just going to stick my head up and say hello with a quick blog post.

I think the cumulative aspect of chemo is starting to catch up with me because  it’s been taking even a few days into week 3 of each cycle before I start feeling “ok”.  I’ve been exhausted in a way that I haven’t felt before and that coupled with other side effects from the camptosar have made things interesting lately.  At my last treatment Dr. Richards mentioned that my white blood cell count was on the low side at 3.2.  And that’s after a full week of recovery!  How low had it been during the last treatment cycle?  I also told Dr. Richards that I was having some shortness of breath and that earned me a stop at the radiologist post-treatment for a chest x-ray.  It came back “normal”.

Despite the fatigue Dan Nies came by after my last recovery week and accompanied me on a slow (10-12 mph) 32-mile ride.  It wasn’t easy but these rides really help me to clear my head so I enjoyed it immensely.  My next planned ride will come on Saturday the 19th at the end of my next recovery week.  That’s the Multiple Sclerosis ride that we’ve been doing in recent years for my friend Missy Gervasini.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and Amy will have a nice easy 25-mile ride on the tandem.

As I mentioned, chemo treatment #8 for 2012 is tomorrow.  And then the big day comes the following week when I have my next PET/CT on Wednesday, 5/16.   The significance of this scan I think speaks for itself.

The gradual build up to our Mintz’s Mentschen LiveSTRONG weekend in Philly in August is continuing.  Our team is growing and hopefully our fundraising totals will start to make some significant leaps.  And, therefore, here’s my usual plea.  We’d love to have you join us to walk, run, or ride.  If you can’t swing that please consider a tax-deductible donation in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  You can join or donate by clicking here.