Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stereotactic radio surgery - one more cancer adventure complete.

After 11 hours at Fairfax Hospital I got home last night at 7:15pm. My parents stayed with me just about the whole time. The surgery lasted 90 minutes. Chris took me home and nursed my head wounds. The worst part of the day was installing the head frame in the morning (see lovely photo). They gave me lots of shots of lidocaine to numb the four spots where they attached the 6 pound frame. The second worst part was waiting until 5:00pm in a room with a TV. Thanks to Grace I had some videos to watch to pass the time.

Everyone at the hospital was so nice. They made the experience as good as it could be. My biggest pain right now is the holes in my head are sore, where the frame was attached all day. Advil should take care of it. And I am on an intense steroid schedule again and those side effects are awful. But I need to keep taking them, to reduce the swelling around the brain tumors as a result of this procedure. I will get an MRI in 6 weeks to see how this worked, so once again I am in a holding pattern.

Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts and messages. You make this experience so much easier to take.  Thanks to mom and dad for being with me and for Chris who visited and held my hand and comforted me.

I love you all so much!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Upcoming Procedures

Upcoming Procedures
My doctors scheduled my stereotactic radio surgery for next Tuesday, September 27. It is an all-day ordeal, starting at 8:30am at Fairfax hospital, when they literally screw a frame to my skull. I then get a few scans, and then I have to wait around with this frame on my head until about 4:30pm for the actual surgery to begin. That will take about two hours. Then I get to go home – no overnight stay. Other than scabs from the head frame, the side effects from the procedure should be minimal.

For you medical geeks, the link to the website below describes the procedure.

Today I had a PET scan (my usual quarterly check) and I get my results from that this Friday. I sure could use some good news, so I hope the cancer in my body remains under control.

I am still not feeling well in general, and I will be SO glad when all these tests and procedures are done.

Keep me in your prayers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brain Radiation - Update and Next Steps

I want to tell you about my latest cancer news.  I met with my radiologist Wednesday afternoon, who reviewed my latest MRI. My radiation treatments made some progress in shrinking three of the tumors. However, the tumor that is in my brain stem (which happens to be the most critical) did not appear to change in shape. In fact, there may be more swelling around it, which is not good. Left alone, the tumor growth and swelling will affect my motor skills, cause seizures, numbness, stroke, etc.

So he recommended that I get stereotactic radio-surgery. They would go in and zap all four tumors, and hopefully reduce the size of the one in the brain stem. They did not do this the first time, because they were hoping that whole brain radiation would shrink all the tumors. He said that brain tumors are fickle, and some respond to treatments, and others do not - it's all at the molecular level. Best case - the tumor shrinks and stays small so I can function normally for years to come.

Anyway - I do not have dates set, but I expect to have the surgery set up within the next two weeks. It involves about a 12 hour hospital stay and a day or two of recovery. I'll have to take steroids again before and after the treatment, which sucks because those side effects are the most annoying.

The good news is I still think my doctors are awesome, and I really know I am in good hands. I will keep fighting this and I know your prayers will get me through everything!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer is Over; Cancer is Not

I did not have the best summer. With the brain tumor diagnosis in June, followed by whole brain radiation, steroids, then new chemo meds, I have been reeling from the side effects. The last three weeks have been the worst – with nausea, upset stomach and general exhaustion dominating my life. I am not myself at all, and I am totally sick of it. I am sick of feeling sick. I drag myself up in the morning for work, and collapse on the couch at the end of the day. I can barely function at night. I am sick of not being able to drive. But even if I could drive, the amount of energy it takes to navigate the northern Virginia streets is overwhelming.

One bright spot is that I have been able to sleep much better, so I got that going for me.

Anyway – here are some pictures of the kids on their first days of school. Erin is settled in at ODU, Grace at O’Connell and Jake at Corpus Christi.

I get an MRI this Sunday, and my radiologist report on September 14. I get a PET/CT scan on Sept 20 and my oncologist report on Sept 22.

Cancer sucks. I am so done with it.