Sunday, December 21, 2008

An Update...

Hi all,

Well it's been a few days... just wanted to post an update on how John's doing. He officially made it through the first week of treatments. During the treatments, he was experiencing a bit of fatigue and some nausea, but nothing that wasn't controlled with the meds that he was given.

We stayed home the whole weekend and just laid low, so he has been able to get plenty of rest. Today the nausea was pretty bad, so we have been trying to find foods that are easy on the stomach that he will be able to keep down. Hopefully the nausea will pass. Here is John in his go-to spot these days:
If there is any upside to the fatigue that John is feeling, it has to be that I am not making him help me dig our driveway and front walk out of the foot of snow that we have gotten in the past couple days. John's friend Brian offered to come over to help with the shoveling...I might have to take him up on that.

Anyway, four days until Christmas. John's parents will be coming on Tuesday to visit for a few days. If John is feeling well enough, we are planning to go to the Boston Pops Christmas Concert and do dinner in Boston on Christmas Eve.

Also, I wanted to post a couple pics of our Christmas tree. John went to a tree farm with Brian & Sarah and Jason & Julie while I was in Chicago with my mom and sisters. They were all a little shocked that I let John pick out a tree by him self because I am insanely particular about Christmas trees, but I think he did an amazing job. It is just the perfect size to fit next to the fireplace. Last year our tree was too big, so we had to keep it in the dining room because it didn't fit in the living room. This one is perfect. I'll be sad when we have to take it back down.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

Now You See It...Now You Don't

Well leave it to John to dive head first into this whole process. Since he is determined to avoid losing his hair in random clumps, he decided it would be best to just preemptively shave it all off. He had some fun in the in-between stages, but he is officially now beardless and bald (the beard was an addition since his surgery). Here's a little picture of his new do:

Anyway, he had his first day of chemo today. It went pretty well. We had been told he would have to be there for about 5 1/2 hours each day, but they had us done in about 3 hours. So far he has not had much nausea. They put him on a pretty solid regimen of anti-nausea meds, so we are hoping the rest of the days this week go as well as today. We'll keep you posted...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Next Up...Chemotherapy

We had our follow-up visit with the oncologist in Friday, and they finally had all of John's test results. The good news is that his PET scan was clear, and all his tumor markers returned to normal. The other news was that the pathology of his tumor showed that he has two types of cancer in the tumor. The first is embryocarcinoma, which is fairly common and not terribly aggressive. The second is choriocarcinoma, which is rare and much more aggressive with a higher chance or recurrence. Usually when a choriocarcinoma does recur or metastasize it shows up in the bone, lung, or brain, which would obviously be not good. That being said, he has a Stage 1 choriocarcinoma which is highly treatable, and in fact, even more rare because usually by the time someone is diagnosed with this type of cancer they have already advanced to Stage 2-3. In this sense, John is extremely lucky to have had intervention this early.

So with all that comes treatment. He still has to have an MRI of the brain this week to insure that the cancer has not spread there at all. From the way the doctors sounded, they do not believe that is has spread (based on all the other test results), but they still have to do this last MRI to be sure. Next comes chemotherapy. John will be going through 3 cycles of chemo therapy, each cycle lasting 3 weeks, so 9 weeks in all. We have a teaching session scheduled for this Thursday with one of the oncology nurses, where they will go over the procedure, the side effects, etc, and we are supposed to come armed with all of our questions.

His first cycle of chemotherapy begins on Dec 15th. The 3 week cycles are broken down as follows:
Day 1-5 - come in for chemo each day for about 5 1/2 hours, may experience nausea, fatigue
Day 6-10 - at home, probably will feel okay
Day 11-17 - at home, will feel the most fatigued and weak, since this is the stage where all his blood counts will be depleted from the meds. Will be most susceptible to infection, so definitely can't be at school around kids
Day 18-21 - will be feeling better, recovered for next round of chemo (to start Jan 5th...and round and round we go)

His doctor has said that he cannot work during any of this time, not only because he will be feeling pretty lousy, but also because chemotherapy depletes the immune system, especially during Day 11-17, so being around school kids with all the stuff they carry, would be too risky. Even a common cold would be very dangerous. In fact, were supposed to monitor his temperature. If he starts running a fever at all, he will be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. His boss has been very supportive through all this, and his district has approved his medical leave for the 9 weeks that he will be going through the cycles.

That's all for now, we'll keep this blog posted with updates on John's treatment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Loss

I figured I'd wait until after Thanksgiving to share this news, so I wouldn't be a Debbie Downer for the holiday...

Last week I had a miscarriage. My hcg levels dropped, and my midwife had me do another ultrasound, which confirmed the loss. They scheduled me for a D&C last Wednesday. Physically, I am still in a little discomfort, but overall feeling well...emotionally, John and I have been trying to cope with this as best as we can. We have definitely been wrestling with this. It had seemed that God's hand was really in this pregnancy considering the timing along with John's cancer. With John's treatment may come fertility challenges for us, so it seemed as though getting pregnant when we did was such a blessing.

All we can do at this point is take one day at a time. We return to John's oncologist on Friday after some more blood work and a PET scan this week. We will find out whether or not John has to do any chemo.

In addition to all that, John is also seeing his orthopedic specialist this week. He had been having low back and hip pain for a number of months. When he was diagnosed with cancer, there was a concern that perhaps the cancer had spread and the pain was a manifestation of the metastasis. That does not appear to be the case. His MRI showed that in fact the pain was coming from spinal stenosis and two bulging discs in his back. When he sees his doctor this week, they will discuss the treatment options. From all the reading we have done it looks like they will be considering either cortisone injections along with more physical therapy or surgery. Right now, with everything else that is going on, the surgery option seems daunting... Anyway, we will find out more after he sees the doctor this week.

At this point we are just feeling a little overwhelmed. I am not naive, I know there are people in the world who are much worse off than we are, who deal with tragedy and hardships...however, for us in this time, it seems like it's just piling up a little too heavily.

We thank you for your continued prayers.

My friend Kristin posted some thoughts on her blog that were really encouraging considering all that we have been going through. In the margin was a link to another random blog entry that was edifying as them here.