Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Treatment Option - Theraspheres

  • Met with Dr. Malmais today - an Interventional Radiologist at Loyola - to discuss the recommended treatment of Theraspheres.

    Kelly, the Nurse Practitioner went over all the procedural aspects, which I did research on-line, so nothing new or surprising there. It is a fairly "complicated" procedure in terms of prep, determining if I am eligible for the procedure per certain tests, blood work, etc.

    What I took from the meeting with Dr. Malmais:

    Because I responded well to chemotherapy, I am a good candidate for Theraspheres.
    This treatment is also used for people who did NOT respond to chemo.

    Expectations: 4% of patients have a "Complete Response" - tumors eradicated
    60% of patients have a "Partial Response" - some tumor shrinkage/eradication
    The balance have No response/or stabilization

    In order for me to be "cured" - all tumors gone - surgery is the goal. At this time, I am not a surgery candidate, and I may never be. My tumors are on both lobes of liver, some are too close to a hepatic artery, which makes it too dangerous for surgery/tumor removal. There is a high recourrance of liver tumors...hearing this reality upset me deeply.

    It's a slippery emotional slope for me to want Honest Answers, percentages, and anything to do with "survival" and prognosis. I did get very upset at one point and left the room to get myself together.

    How do I strike the emotional and psychological balance of Reality, practicality, possibility and being "prepared" and not kill the "positive attitude" everyone tells me I must maintain in order to "beat this"?

    I am very pissed off about the "multiple options" I was told I had. I tried to get the Doctor to give me an idea of what my multiple options are. (Surgeon and Oncologist have uttered this statement to me several times when I ask about the "what-ifs")

    If this treatment does not produce X result, them what?
    "chirp, chirp, chirp"

    If A, then B. If X then Y. That's what I was looking for but I have not received. I know there are no absolutes, I know we must see how I respond. But don't tell me that not one of the Doctors think about or have a Plan B.

    So I guess my Multiple Options (said with dripping pissed-off sarcasm) are: Do the Theraspheres or Don't Do the Theraspheres.

    As of today I plan on doing them of course. I will try those options that give me a chance.
    I have my meeting with Dr. Benson at Northwestern next week and will try and nail him on my "Multiple Options" mystery. On the one hand, I hope he recommends the Theraspheres treatment as well, so I am not faced with confusing, disparate treatments. I am kind of expecting that it will be the same, but will be interesting to hear my 1st Second Opinion.

    Lest this sounds like the ultimate downer of a post, I was at the Uptowon Shop getting a hostess gift yesterday and the girls asked me how I was doing with chemo etc...A woman shopping overheard and told me her Sister had colon cnacer and did Therasphere treatment 6 years ago and is doing very well. From my on-line reading, this is a promising treatment...

    My prayer for the next part of my treatment journey: Please Oh Please Let me be the miracle, let me be the 4% Complete Response.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blessed Times Three!

I feel like I'm the lucky sister of Ebeneezer Scrooge- instead of being visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, I was BLESSED by real people of my Past Present and Future.

1. Last week, my college friend, Laurene, was in Chicago for business trip. She taxied from the Loop out to Maywood to meet me at Chemo and spend time with me. Chemo was cancelled and she, my Mom and I had a great lunch at the Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park. We haven't seen each other in a few years, but, as always, we easily fell back into an effortless camaraderie - catching up on kids, work, life etc.

2. On Saturday, my sister Katie and I drove up to Lake Geneva, WI to meet Mary for lunch. Mary is a friend and colleague of Katie's and a special Prayer Warrior of mine. She always shares thoughtful, encouraging, loving support via this blog. I was so excited to meet her in person and she's every bit as beautiful in person as in cyber-world. She is my new Present and Future Friend!!!

3. Early Sunday evening, as I just lay down to take a load off, I hear a knock at the door and Lee call me. I was thinking it might be a neighbor and I wasn't in the mood to visit. I reluctantly get up and who is standing in my living room? Javier Lopez - a friend I knew over 20 years ago when I was a student living in Madrid, Spain. He was in Chicago to attend a funeral and was trying to look me up - our phone is unlisted. He googled me, found this Blog and showed up on my doorstep. After reading about my Cancer, he made it a point to pay me and my family a visit.

So, Christmas came early for me. God continues to show me the absolute beauty of the people around me, even those on the periphery.

I continue to be blessed 1,000 times over. How do I compete with that? How do I ever begin to bring this abundance of love back out into the universe? If you have an answer, PLEASE let me know!!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Good bye Chemo, Hello TheraSpheres

The Loyola Cancer Team went over my case yesterday and recommend the following:

No more chemo- it has gone as far as it can go at this point - will gain no more from it

TheraSpheres- injection directly to the liver tumors to help further shrink tumors

Surgery - Not an option at this point until more tumors are shrunk/eradicated

I am pursuing 2nd opinion with Dr. Al Benson at Northwestern.

If for some reason I decided against the therashperes, then they would put me on a different chemo cocktail and see if that further shrunk tumors, but I will pursue these other treatment options.

For nearly 8 months, give or take some breaks due to hospitalizations, I have gone to Loyola Cancer center EVERY WEEK for chemo and DR. appts. It will be kind of weird to not have that weekly routine.

Also, even though chemo is poison and while it's good for tumor-shrinkage and BAD for the rest of your body, I feel scared that it will no longer, at least for now, be infused in me. It's run its course. I've responded very, very well to chemo, but time to take a break.

On the bright side, I gained 7 Pounds in the last week! I had an eating orgy last weekend - Benihana and Pappadeaux, I have to start weaning myself from the bad fattening foods and get better foods in my system. I need to figure out how to go from Skeletor and not be a tubbo!

Saturday I have an outing to Lake Geneva with my sister and her friend Mary, who I can't wait to meet!!!!

Have a Blessed weekend my Prayer ALL can take credit for my progress and for any blessing I have received in my Cancer Fight...

I hope you all can truly believe what Your commitment of prayer in my name has done for me. I am proof of what the power of prayer can do.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Week In the Life of "Semi-Colons"

I particpate on the Colon Cancer Message Board at the American Cancer Society site. It is an incredible community of support and information for people in the trenches of a specific cancer.

I thought the following post sums it up nicely: Thanks Rob

As I remember my many friends here in this community I am overwhelmed by what we collectively face in any given week.

This week we will undergo surgery to reverse an ileostomy. We will stand by the hospital bedside of a mother in Italy, and a brother with bone mets. We will recover from surgery and regain health.

This week we will report for radiation and Chemo, for Oxy, Irinotecan, 5FU, Avastin, and Erbitux in various combinations.

We will suffer the side-effects and mitigate them as best possible with lotions, pain-killers, anti-emetics, and other tricks.
This week we will be PET scanned, CT Scanned, Bone scanned, x-rayed, scoped, and blood-tested every which way. We will wait for results. We will share and celebrate the good news and we will share and lament the bad.

This week we will search for new doctors and solicit second opinions. We will consult pain specialists. We will research new treatments and discover new possibilities. We will adjust to new realities and hope for better days ahead.

This week we will accompany our loved ones with cancer to various appointments and we will continue to walk with them through the ups and downs of the week.

This week we will be massaged and accupunctured. We will receive healing touch and reiki. We will meditate and pray, we will celebrate birthdays, and we will juice!

In whatever it is you face this week, I wish for you...

"Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Hugs when spirits sag,
Beauty for your eyes to see,
Friendships to brighten your being,Confidence for when you doubt,
Hope in times of despair,
Courage to know yourself,Patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pet Scan Reults Are In- Prayers answered!

Dr. Lo called me last night to let me know the preliminary findings:

NO NEW cancer growth seen in the body; no growth of liver tumors.

I will get these scans sent to Dr. Benson at Northwestern for a 2nd Opinion and the Loyola Team will meet in the next week or so to discuss surgical/treatment options.

This next phase of treatment I fear will be wrought with confusion and anxiety and "Which way to go" in terms of making choices and decisions on treatments. What will be in MY hands? What is out of my control? Will the treatments be effective, continue the miracle and bring me to my most sacred prayer....long-term Survival?

As always my beloved Prayer Warriors...THANK YOU


Friday, November 6, 2009

PET Scan Today- Anxious

I go for a PET Scan this morning. This imaging differs from CAT scan because it's looking for "live" cancer activity, as opposed to the flat images of a CAT scan. I'll see Dr. lo next Wed and she'll go over the results.

Will my progress continue? Will there be good news or bad? It's such a stressful time waiting for any test results - will I dodge a bullet this time?

Your mind plays terrible games- either you just don't think about it at all OR you start playing out scenarios.

My prayer for today: That the PET Scan shows NO new cancer lurking ansywhere and that my tumors are shrunken sooo much that my Cancer Team can begin planning my next tumor-resection surgery.

XOXO Peggy

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yippee skippee- Another Answered Prayer

My undies were in a bundle at the thought of having to endure an NG tube, or WORSE another operation. Alas, prayers answered.

I didn't have a bowel obstruction, but most likely a twisted bowel or pinched bowel that resolved itself this time. Docs can't be 100% certain, however the surgeon and resident both said that they see this with their chemo patients - bowel mobility is compromised.

Here's hoping for a pain-free, hospital-free future. Except, of course, when I can have my miracle-producing suurgery that will rid my body of the evil tumors!

Hats off to my AWESOME Prayer Warriors.. IT WORKS

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yet ANOTHER HospitalAdmission

Just when I've turned the corner in terms of energy and fatigue, BAM another challenge rears its ugly head.

Sunday morning I had a sudden onset of twisting, cramping upper abdominal pain. It lasted for about an hour and then subsided. I thought it was a weird form of gas, but it was similar to the location and pain I had in September with the bowel obstruction.

I had a pain-free rest of the day. Monday Morning: After a bowl of Corn Flakes, the same pain reared it's ugly head and was much worse than before. Relentless, twisting pain. I thought it would subside like it did before, but it did not let up.

I had Lee take me to Elmhurst Hospital instead of Loyola because I didn't think I could stand the longer ride to Loyola and I was counting on the fact that Elmhurst ER could get me in quicker and I could at least get x-rays done before going to Loyola. Lee had to cancel his business trip for Tues./Wed. I feel terrible.

I am now at Loyola, drinking that chalky contrast liquid to get a Cat Scan. the pain is gone, but who knows if it'll show up again tomorrow.

My prayer is that the bowel untwists itself on its own so i don't need surgery OR the dreaded NG tube. I have been crying and panicking all day at the thought of getting that horrible tube crammed in my nose and throat.

I have to tell you, I am SICK & Tired of these hospital excursions. These interruptions affect my chemo and future treatments and healing.

Thanks Prayer Warriors, I'll keep you all posted