Wednesday, August 29, 2007

8th Chemo - Pump Removed

Karen's doing well but very tired. All normal. The pump was removed today for the 8th time. We learned her CEA has dropped down slightly to 140 again. This is good news and no doubt the effect of the CPT-11.

We are still working through identifying a surgeon but are zero-ing in on one of the best, if not the best liver surgeons in the country. Not in Sloan Kettering by the way. CT and PET scans have been scheduled for the 5th of September with an MRI the following week. It's going to be a busy few weeks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

8th Chemo Session

Karen's currently undergoing her 8th chemo treatment (the 4th "round"). The pump was hooked up yesterday whilst Sarah looked after the kids (thanks Sarah). Karen was able to sleep some of today whilst Sarah and mom took the kids out for the day (thanks guys). Karen will return to hospital tomorrow to have the pump removed.

Karen's still on CPT-11 and it's still kicking her butt. The nurses and Dr Moriarty were all surprised to hear how rough CPT-11 had been on her the last time. It's due no doubt in part to Karen's petite size and also that this is her 8th treatment.

This week I got a number of emails from folks who're either cancer patients or caregivers, some of whom are having a hard time with the chemo side effects. In the interests of sharing information with folks I've gone through Karen's drug-bucket and listed the various medications she's on besides the chemo. Many of these are substitutes with the alternative in paretheses.
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Naproxen
  • Temazepam
  • Docusate Sodium
  • Amoxicillin
  • Prochlorper
  • Dexamethason
  • Compazine

These are basically anti-nausea for the most part. Hopefully this gives you something to talk to your doctor about.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Congratulations Jacqui and Declan Dunleavy

Today my friend Declan Dunleavy will marry Jacqui in Baden Baden, Germany. I've known Declan since I was 13 back in Donnycarney. Karen's known him as long as she's known me. He's a loveable sort but for many years he was a bad influence on me. Still, can't fault him for that.

Before Karen's diagnosis we had planned on attending this monumentous event but tonight we will be there in spirit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Seventh Chemo - Pump Removed

Karen's sleeping peacefully but the last few days have been tough. As I mentioned last time, her chemo was changed to include Camptosar (aka CPT-11) and this has really been hard on Karen's system.

K spent much of Monday, Tuesday and today sleeping, on average 18 hours per day. This has meant limited time with the kids which is frustrating for her but more importantly limited time eating and drinking. The pump was removed today as usual but this time the nurses saw fit to give her a bag of fluids along with an exam from the Dr Lowenthal (a member of Moriarty's group).

Lowenthal gave K a complete exam and reviewed her chart. We were worried for a moment that she might be admitted. He commented that she has been making great progress, despite the extremely debilitating side effects. He also remarked that the doses of drugs she's on are pretty high. This is not the first time we've heard this and it explains why she's hit so hard each time.

We believe that given Karen's age and overall strength that the doctors are prescribing the most aggressive treatment possible and are confident that this is the best approach to treat her disease.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Seventh Chemo Treatment

Karen's doing well. I always like to start off the posts with that statement. That's the most important nugget in the whole post.

Today Karen had her seventh chemo treatment. Nicole went with her (thx Nick) and I stayed home with the kids. We had a VERY eventful day between work, play and a visit from the plumber. That's another story.

Karen's day was also pretty busy. As usual she met with Dr Moriarty for an exam. The chemo regime was modified today to replace Oxaliplatin with a drug called CPT-11, also known as Camptosar. It's not commonplace in the USA yet but new studies in Europe have demonstrated the effectiveness of switching up the chemo regime with this drug before surgery. Karen had an allergic reaction to Oxali last time which was another reason to switch. Gotta love Dr Dan for staying on top of things.

Karen also got the prescription for her next round of scans. These will be performed 10 days after the 8th chemo session and include CT-scans of the abdomen, chest and pelvis as well as a PET scan. Personally I'm excited for these as they'll be the make or break as far as whether surgery is approved.

Tonight she's feeling shakey but in good spirits, as am I.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Congratulations Baby Conor

Today my sister's new son, my nephew, Conor, was baptised. Karen and I would've been there to celebrate were it not for the current situation. Despite not being able to attend the baptism this year, we are in fact Conor's Godparents! Godparents in-absentia, for now. This time next year we expect to be home in Ireland celebrating again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sixth Chemo - Pump Removed

Karen's exhausted today, primarily from chemo. Generally when she's tired it's either from chemo or from the drugs she takes to ease chemo, all of which make you drowsy. Today it's from chemo alone.

She had her pump removed and as always we got a CEA reading. Unfortunately the CEA has stayed roughly the same as last time. I spoke to the nurses and they assured me that this is still not a bad thing. There will be disappointments along the way with cancer and this is just one of them. The fact that it's dropped so much since we started is still a good thing.

I've also had conversations with our insurance as Sloan Kettering (our preferred location for surgery) is out of network for us. They've initiated the process of obtaining a case-worker to be dedicated to our case and will see what comes of it.

We will know more after round seven but for now I'm gritting my teeth and adopting the McCloud motto: Hold Fast!