Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Happy New Year

“The scans look great! Even better than I could have expected.” Glorious words!

Yesterday Jim had his first post radiation MRI scan, and today we met with our lead doctor to talk about it. Everything looks great. The tumor has shrunk considerably. The higher grade (more dangerous) cancer cells appear to be largely dead.

The doctor explained that many of the tumor cells that remained after the surgery in September were destroyed by the radiation. The DNA in the rest of the cancer cells was damaged —he likened it to soldiers lying bloodied on a battlefield. The cells in their current form aren’t hurting Jim; they are only a threat if they try to divide (grow). The radiation will continue to “work” for many months by destroying those cells when they make the fatal mistake of trying to divide. Because the lower grade cells grow slowly, it might be many months before that process is complete.

In the meantime, Jim will continue to take the chemo drug. When I asked why, the doctor said it was like walking up to those bloodied soldiers laying on the battlefield and stomping on their heads. Sounds good to us! Jim will take a higher dose of the chemo drug for just 5 days a month. He’ll take medicine to prevent nausea, and he may experience some fatigue, but otherwise is unlikely to suffer side effects. If he tolerates the chemo well, he’ll probably continue this cycle for up to two years. He’ll have MRI scans every few months to monitor the effectiveness, and the doctor will make changes if needed.

“Looks good” we said as we prepared to leave. He corrected us: “Looks great!”

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

Hope everyone has a beautiful and thankful Christmas!
God bless us everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I am a bad blogger

I think it has been 10 days since I last blogged. I have been very neglectful of this space because I jumped into the Christmas season. I have filled my thoughts with "regular" stuff. I have truly enjoyed decorating the house for Christmas, helping practice for the pageant at St. Ambrose, and watching my beautiful daughters perform. The house has been filled with music and fun. It was GREAT to have my parents visit for the past week! Yesterday and today I had a ball playing in this great snowfall with my girls. I even enjoyed digging out from under the 20 inches. (And there is a snow day tomorrow!)

The radiation treatments finished on the the 11th at NIH. The team gave me a "graduation" certificate and let me keep my mask. They were so great to work with. I saw the neurologist and oncologist last week. The oncologist will have me start the chemo again next month.

I am also greatly relieved to have 13 consecutive days without seeing a doctor! I have not gone that long without seeing a medic since August. What a Christmas present!
I will go get blood work and an MRI on the 29th and the results on the 30th. Keep the prayers coming for good news.

Thursday, December 10, 2009



Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley

I find this poem moving in so many ways. It brings strength.

I am especially moved that Nelson Mandela had it displayed on his prison cell at Robben Island. It is now the title of the movie that shows Mandela's move toward reconciliation in the birth of the new "rainbow" South Africa.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

T minus 3 and counting!

Only three more radiation treatments!
Just afraid the machine is going to break down and they will tell me to come back when it is fixed next week.
Now I am starting to get a sunburn on the left side of my forehead from the x-rays. It looks sort of like I have been driving around all day in the sun. That would be fun, but no, I earned this red skin in a windowless basement during a cold, cloudy week.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

25 down 5 to go

One more week of radiation treatments.
Tomorrow will be the last round of weekly questions (interrogation):
How do you feel? Good
Are you taking your medicine? Yes
Are you nauseous? No
Have you fallen down? No
Any headaches? Nope
Are you eating? Never a problem, always too good at that.
Do you feel tired? A little sleepy, nothing a little nap can't cure.
Then they take my vitals and weigh me and send me home.
Piece of cake.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some days I could use some good Craic.

Every day as I am leaving NIH after my treatment, I stop in the Au Bon Pain coffee shop in the lobby for a coffee or juice and a snack. It is nice enough . Some days though, I wish the NIH lobby had an authentic Irish Pub. On those day I am more in the mood for two fingers with a splash followed by a pint to go along with good craic. A good laugh and lively conversation with music would be great way to end the day there.