Shaved my hair!

Shaved my hair!

Santa and Joshua

Santa and Joshua

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone

Well, I will never get a job as a blogger that's for sure. Sorry I haven't written since my first chemo treatment 3 weeks ago.
For those on Facebook, you will have read some of the side effects I have been going thru.
It was diffenitely a rough couple of weeks. Thank goodness they gave me something for nausea, I think thats the only thing I didnt experience after that initial therapy. That being said, what I did go thru wasn't fun.
The new chemo drug they put me on this time around is called Taxol. I am also on Carboplatin, plus I was given Neulasta to help keep my white blood cell count up.

Almost immediately my energy level was zapped. But the worst was the neuropathy. All of my joints ached. My ankles, feet, knees, elbows, shoulders and lower back. I needed crutches to get into town for my Pet Scan. I hate calling into the doctors office, but I did, and they said it was just a side effect of the Taxol, as well as the Neulasta.

The PET SCAN came back clear! (except for the tumor in my neck) This is awesome news. At least now we know exactly what we are fighting. Plus this allows me to go ahead with the radiation treatment.

I returned to work on the 14th. I was pretty tired, but it was manageable. Naps at lunch time helped. I was also on-call for work for a week straight, and it was the busiest on-call I have ever had. I think I ended up with just over 17 hours of on call! One night i worked till 7pm (suppose to be off at 6), then had to go back out around 9pm and got home around midnight.
I guess its true that God wont give you more than what you can handle. But I must admit, I think I was getting close.

I am now off for a week, as I start radiation treatment on Monday.
My chemo treatments have also be changed up. Since my radiation is a go, my Oncologist would now like me to have chemo weekly instead of every three weeks. They lowered the dose of Taxol, no steroids, and no neulasta. In theory I shouldn't have the side effects I had the first time around. But with radiation and chemo all at the same time, I know I will be very tired.
Next week, I will have my chemo on Thursday, and then back to Fridays. I am hoping I will be able to go back to work on January 4th.

The other side effect that I never really went thru in 2007 is the loss of my hair. In 2007 my hair just kinda thinned out. But this time around, 2 weeks after my first chemo, hair would just come out in clumps. So, I have shaved my head. Good thing I don't mind short hair.

I guess the adrenaline of Christmas morning really got me going, because it was an absolutely amazing day. Michelle was up early, I woke up around 7 and Erica up around 8am. Santa had arrived! It was a great morning. Round one ended around 9:15am then the second round started around 10 as Mom and Dad Lewis arrived as well as Jessica, Nick and grandson Joshua. We were also joined by Kim (Michelle's sister) Doug and Kyle.
Even though Josh just sat looking cute, it was still a very special Christmas morning to see the gifts that he received. I already cant wait till next year when he will be 16 months old!
We enjoyed a great brunch and really had a wonderful time together.

Dinner was low key, I decided to make a roast with yorkshire pudding (my first attempt). They turned out great. Very yummy.

I slept very well last night.

We went thru a family scare this past week, as our Uncle John and cousin Jason, were over come by carbon monoxide poisoning as they were working in the garage. Luckily they were found and 911 was called. They were both taken to ER, Jason was given oxygen and did not have to be admitted to the hospital. Uncle John on the other hand coded a number of times, and did have a severe heart attack. As it turns out, he has a number of blood clots around his heart (unrelated to the carbon monoxide poisoning). If he had not been at the hospital and had the heart attack, he probably would not have survived it. It was a blessing in disguise that he had to be taken to the hospital! He is now home and he and Jason are doing well.

In 2007 when I was going thru my first treatments, a highlight of that year was my very good friend, Jon Matthews and his wife Claire giving birth to beautiful Gwen. Well, here we are again, and a highlight of these holidays was another addition to their family. Ella was on December 21st. Congratulations Claire and Jon. I know Claire wants more kids, hopefully I wont be going thru more treatments!

Ok, computer just started to freeze up. So I better end here. I hope everyone is having a great holiday. I will try to get on here more often.
Radiation starts Monday and chemo again on Thursday.

Talk to you all soon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1 day of chemo down

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. It has been cold and snowing here in Traverse City.
Yesterday I completed my first day of chemotherapy. I was amazed how all the nurses remembered who I was, a couple joking that they had hoped they would never see me again.
It was a long 4 hours, I need to remember the chair I sat in, as it was not very comfortable. It reclined but not as flat as I prefer. I noticed a couple of chairs that others were using that seemed much nicer.
Most of the other patients were very friendly, introducing themselves and asking what I was diagnosed with. No one had heard of thymic carcinoma, but all were sad to hear it had spread and that I was back for more treatments. There were also some patients that never said a word, looked very scared, and very sad. I always hope they will look up and catch my eye, so I can send some sort of a vibe that will tell them we are all here to support them. Almost everyone had some sort of support person with them, which was nice to see. Friends and family are so important when going thru this. I am very blessed to have such a great support group, my family here in Traverse, back in Canada, in England, Finland, Israel, as well as my friends all around the world plus the numerous strangers who send messages of encouragement. I can tell you all, it really does help.

They start off your chemo slow, to make sure you don't have any sort of adverse affect to the drugs. I always sort of laugh that they are poisoning me! You can see you skin go pale and you do begin to feel week. I was told some warning signs, such as if I get a severe pain in my lower back with in the first 20 minutes, to call for one of the nurses. I never felt any pain. After a while they let the IV drip speed up, but the Taxol still took about 3 1/2 hours. Then they started the Carboplatin and it went in quick, about 30 minutes. They also gave me some more steroids thru the IV, some antihistamine, and aloxi to keep the nausea at bay. They seem to have the nausea part perfected. I have not felt nauseous once.

Some strange side effects have occurred since my treatment. I have been battling the hick ups since last night. This is a known side effect of both the steroids and the chemo. I also could not sleep very well, partly because I would start hick upping out of the blue, and I was feeling very jittery though out the night. I was also experiencing a metallic taste in my mouth, which made eating anything very distasteful. So far I have still had an appetite, which had totally gone away last time. The steroids may be helping me keep my appetite up.

I woke up this morning, to Michelle saying that my face was red and I had a noticeable puffiness around my eyes. I figured it was from my lack of sleep. It got a bit worse as the day went on and I finally called the oncologist on-call, and he had assured me it was just a side effect of the steroid, not much could be done except wait it out, it would pass with time.

I did go in and get a shot of neulasta which will help keep my white blood count up. It does make my joints ache as well as my bones. I am already feeling the aches in my elbows. I have started to take some aleve to hopefully make it feel better. The nurse said I could feel the aches for about 2 weeks. I can deal with and continue to work with the aches, I wont be able to work if my white blood count drops too low.
And last but not least the chemo fog is back. I am not quite able to concentrate on what I am doing. I have had a continuous slight head ache that just doesn't allow you to focus. Hopefully I will get a much better nights sleep tonight and will feel better in the morning.

As draining as this all sounds, I know that it is all worth it.
Next step is my PET Scan on Tuesday. This will show if the cancer has spread to any other part of my body. It will be a very important scan, and I will be anxiously awaiting the results.

That's all for tonight. The Toronto Maple leafs are playing...and losing, and I am feeling tired which is good. I may just try and sleep on the couch for a while. Talk to you all soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wow

My last post was almost 2 years ago to the day! Unfortunatly I am adding a new post because my cancer has returned. The thymic carcinoma has metasticized (spread) to a lymph node in the right side of my neck. I felt the lump on November 8th, while I was visiting my wife Michelle, who was in the hospital for her own health issues. Michelle was having severe chest pain, and we have found out that she has a new blockage. She has already had 3 stentsput in since 2004. Unfortunatly the new blockage is in a bad spot to put in a stent, so for now we are trying to address the pain with different prescriptions and possibly her going on oxygen. Surgery may be our only option in the near future.

We had a biopsy done, as well as a new CT Scan on the new mass, and it came back positive. We then consulted with our team of doctors, my primary physician, my primary oncolgist, my radiologist, and an ear, nose, throat to discuss our options. We also had the Tumor Board at the University of Michigan take a look at my case and it was decided that having the mass revoved surgically was too risky. Recomendations were agreed apon to start me on a new round of chemo and radiation treatments. A different drug will be used this time around, called Taxol as well as one that I had used before which is called Carboplatin. Instead of 3 days a week, every 3 weeks...I will be getting these given thru IV 1 day a week (on Fridays) every 3 weeks. My first treatment will be on Friday December 4th.
I will then be starting radiation treatments on Monday December 28th. I will be going 5 days a week (Monday - Friday) for 5 weeks straight.

I also will be having a PET Scan on December 8th. This will be of my entire body to check if the cancer has spread anywhere else. If it has we will be re-evaluating if radiation treatment is still an option. This will be a very important scan.

I am hoping I will be able to work while going thru most of these treatments, but I have already booked off the weeks where my chemo and radiation coincide. Those will be very tiring weeks.

I know people will say..do not appologize...but I am sure I will. I will try to keep this blog updated on a regular basis. I will kind of think of this as a diary of whats been going on in our life. I appreciate everyone taking the time to read this and all the messages people leave us. We are very blessed to have such a close family and great friends.

Tomorrow we will be celebrating the American Thanksgiving as I was on call on Thursday. I cannot wait!

I will write again soon to fill you in on the most amazing thing that has happened to us this year. Our daughter Jessica gave birth to an absolutly incredible baby boy. His name is Joshua and just turned 3 months old. He is so very cute!

Ok, thats all for now. It is beautiful out, so I must go put some Christmas decorations up.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Talk to you all soon.