Thursday, June 21, 2007

Here we go again…

Well, we had David’s MRI. It could have gone better, but it could have gone a hell of a lot worse. The tests came back inconclusive once again. So, no matter how they come at this damn spot….they just can’t figure out what the hell it is. It could be after effects of the radiation that lasts up to a year and tends to inflame the wound and surrounding scar tissue, it could very well be cell necrosis…which is old dead cancer cells and good cells that were destroyed from the radiation…or it could be the beginning of cell activity. Which is very bad. That would mean that there is cell growth and the beginning of tumor activity. But they can’t determine exactly what it is.

The doctors gave us a choice. We could wait it out and see how it progresses or doesn’t progress in the next couple months or we could go in and figure out exactly what it was. The doctors, who are extremely pro-active, felt it was best to go in and check it out. If it’s nothing…that we can move on and Dave will heal from the surgery…but if it something more it is much better to catch it now, when it is a few cells before it blows up into a tumor. It would be much harder to manage than a few undefined cells.

We have a new surgeon…who kicks butt. He’s not only got a great bed-side manner and sense of humor. But he’s good. Very good. Everyone says he’s the man we want. He specializes in Malignant brain tumors and epilepsy and tends to do 2-3 surgeries a week in the temporal lobe…which is where he will be going in on David.

The surgeon said that if David was 60 or 70, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But he’s young and healthy…and one hell of a fighter, so they believe it is definitely worth it. This doctor tends to map the patients brain before he goes in to determine inactive areas and dormant areas before the surgery begins, which was not done in our previous surgery. And this time they will actually be removing a portion of Dave’s temporal lobe including the suspect tissue as well as a little extra to be sure. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Not really…but if it keeps him healthy, that’s all that matters. The doctor says recovery will be longer on this one that his previous surgery, but the surgeon doesn’t know David and what he’s capable of. I’m guessing he’ll bounce back faster than expected and wow them all…as usual.

David’s surgery is scheduled for Monday the 25th, exactly one-year from the first one. How crazy is that? He’ll be going in at 7:30 and be under for 3-4 hours. So…here’s where we’re at. I can’t believe we’re about to go through this all over again, but at least this time it’s on our own terms. Wish us luck and everyone’s prayers, wishes and thoughts are appreciated.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A little reminder that there is always hope...

An Israeli researcher has developed and successfully tested a new device to combat glioblastoma mulitforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer.

Professor Emeritus Yoram Palti Haifa's Technion Institute told the website Israel21c that in tests on 10 cancer patients over the past year, his device has more than doubled the median overall survival rate of GBM patients.

The overwhelming success of tests has prompted 12 cancer centers in the US and anther eight in Europe to initiate large-scale studies of the method.

Palti's device consists of small nodes that are attached to the scalp and use electrical fields to kill the cancer cells by interfering with the division of the cells, thereby arresting the growth of the tumor.

The nodes are powered by a small battery pack, allowing patients to undergo constant treatment while going about their daily lives. Unlike chemotherapy, there are no side-effects.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The crappy MRI that started it all...

Ok. Where to begin. Dave had an MRI about a week and a half ago.

Why they don’t do an individual’s scan on the same machine every month is still a mystery to me. Especially in David’s case where it needs to be detailed and compared to previous scans. And since each MRI machine is a bit different you would think they would want consistency. But hopefully this will be the last time that Dave is on a crappy MRI. He’s requesting to have the same MRI machine for every scan done here on out.

During this months MRI, he made a comment that the machine was extremely quite and for those of you who have had MRI’s, this is unusual. They are usually quite loud. So, he had the MRI in the morning and then met with his neural-oncologist in the afternoon. It was an extremely grainy film. Much different then his previous scans. Since it was so grainy, it was very difficult to compare this film to David’s previous ones over the last year. But our doctor thought he saw an extremely slight change. Surprised the hell out of David. The doctor couldn’t be sure there was a change at all seeing as the film was so bad…but he wanted to be sure. So he said he would call us and let us know what the rest of the team thought of it. This was the 23rd. No news that night and then finally the next day he called to say that he showed it to the entire team of Neurologists but none of them could agree. Half felt there was a minute change while the other half didn’t see anything at all. So, they decided to do a PET scan. These are much more detailed and show not only physical changes but changes on a cellular level. So it would show any Cancer cells that might be present.

At this point, we’re trying not to panic or let fear over take us. It could be nothing, it could be scar tissue that tends to get inflamed from all the chemo drugs, or it could be the beginning of tumor activity. So we wait. And wait and wait. Which is why we didn’t post immediately. I kept expecting immediate results and wanted to post the final results. Not just a panicky post about what it might be. But it took until the following Wednesday the 30th to get us in for a PET scan. Which sucked big. The waiting was excruciating and yet I had to keep reminding myself that other people had to get scans too and that those people and their loved ones we’re waiting for their particular time slot to have their test done for whatever nasty ailment they were looking for and I’m sure their issues were just as serious as ours. So we waited all weekend. And then the scan day came and they injected Dave with some sort of radioactive solution, which I would rather not think about what it was. Not like he doesn’t have enough toxic chemicals coursing through his body at the moment. But they did the scan and then we had to wait some more because the results have to be processed. Our doctor kept up on everything and would call us at night whenever he talked to anyone or even if he didn’t…just to let us know he hadn’t forgotten about us. But the results came back and Dave and I huddled upstairs over the speaker phone as he told us that it still is inconclusive. Not what I wanted to hear…but at least it wasn’t that they found a tumor. This whole experience at times has been so heart wrenching and exhausting…and we knew that there would be bad days. We knew there would be scares. Anyone who has had cancer has talked about a faulty test or possible sign of a reoccurrence. It’s what we all fear most. But, as I been reminding myself everyday since that crappy MRI., we can’t live in fear. This is our life. The good and the bad. We have to enjoy every precious moment and live it to the fullest and not let this overwhelming fear pull us down and smother us. But it’s so hard sometimes. I’ve spent the last couple days either crying or laughing. I guess it’s a testament to our strength and love that we can still laugh. But we would have it no other way.

So. The test is inconclusive. We know it isn’t scar tissue because in the PET scan there is a tiny flare up next to the original scar tissue from David’s first surgery. And we now know it is one of two things. Either Necrosis… which is dead cancer cells from the radiation David went through or it’s the beginning of tumor activity. We spoke with our doctor at length and either way he is extremely optimistic. If it is indeed cancer cells…that it is so minimal that they can be dealt with fast and efficiently.

So, right now we’re going to wait a bit more. They are all leaning towards surgery just to find out what that bugger is. The location this all happens in is an “ideal” spot, if you really could call any of this ideal. It’s easy to get at and in a dormant area of the brain. Froedtert has a temporal lobe surgeon who basically does 1 to 3 surgeries in the location every week and that is who our doctor would want us to use. He’s on vacation until the 11th…which isn’t a big deal since we’re not sure what we’re dealing with yet and it’s so minimal that there is no urgency yet. David’s monthly MRI is scheduled for the 20th. So, depending on what the brain surgeon says…we will probably be waiting until the 20th for David’s MRI and see how it looks. If there is no sign of anything (Because this stuff that showed up on the PET may have been there all along and only showed up because we did a more detailed scan) then they may or may not do a surgery. And obviously…if there is something in the MRI, then Dave will be going in for the surgery. So. We wait.

A dear friend of ours reminded us that if he ends up going in again for another surgery, he is so much healthier then he was the first time and that his recovery the first time was miraculous. And I keep reminding myself that David isn’t just anyone. He’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before. And if he can do a cycle of radiation, a year of chemo and still look like he’s the healthiest man on earth AND be in a softball team. He can do this too. I just have to believe. We all do. So we’re going to need everyone’s prayers, manifestations, whatever you do….we’re going to need it to get through this. I myself believe it’s Necrosis. His blood counts are fine and show no dips and he has no symptoms. So I think he’s fine. But that doesn’t mean that my heart isn’t aching.