Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chemo Treatment #1

Yesterday I had my first of four chemo treatments. Everything went quite well and I learned quite a bit about chemo and why my treatment is longer than many others.

As I mentioned before, I am taking two different types of chemo. These two, put together, pack an extra punch for lung cancer. When I first got there, they started an IV of fluids and potassium to fill my system and cover the loss of potassium from the chemo. Then I was given a steroid (Beware Barry Bonds - I am coming after your record!) to help with the process. The nurse said that the side effect with this is that it will jolt my body a little and I may have trouble sleep for the first three nights, since I have to take follow up steroids for three days. As you can see by the time of this post, she was right. Then came the first chemo and that only took about 15 minutes. After that I got a shot that was like a water pill and was told that I would be going to the restroom a lot in the next few hours - she got that right too! The purpose for that shot was to flush the chemo out of the kidneys so that it wouldn't sit there. Then came the big bag of chemo and that took 45 minutes. Finally, another bag of fluids and magnesium, and after who knows how many trips to the restroom, the day was over. It took about 6 hours this time. Next time will be a little longer because I will need to do labs and meet with the doctor before I get the chemo. That is in three weeks, and in between then I need to go every week for lab tests.

The big part of the day was just sitting there, reading, praying, talking with visitors, watching "West Wing" and looking out the windows. The side effects have been very mild so far (and will hopefully stay that way).

I am feeling very positive about everything so far. Some of my visits today were with cancer survivors, and that is always a boost - see those who have gone through these battles and come out on the other side doing very well. I look forward to being one who brings hope to others who are going through this as well.

Time to see if the steroids will let me sleep - good night, or rather morning, all!

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Cancer News

Today I had a very informative meeting the the oncologist. Everything is still on track with the chemo - I will start next Monday and it will take me through July. I will be there for 6-8 hours, so I am warming up the I-pod and Kindle. The interesting stuff had to do with an e-mail the doctor had gotten just before I had gotten there.

The e-mail was from the medical team at UW. They had run some tests and confirmed that the cancer was caused by a genetic mutation. It turns out that the tumor was caused by EML4-Alk chromosomal translocation. This is in less than 3% of the people who have non-small cell lung cancer and usually occurs in non-smokers. There is a company who is developing a drug that targets this gene rearrangement.

It is very rare to have this, and the doctor actually laughed when I said, Yeah, I keep telling people I am unique.

This does not change anything for my treatment right now because there is nothing approved by the FDA or in trials in the area right now to treat this, but he did say that if there were a relapse, then there probably be a new treatment that would be beneficial. The way he explained it - chemo is like taking a sledge hammer to kill a bug on the table - you will kill the bug and destroy the table as well. The new therapy would target the bug only and not harm the table.

The doctor agreed with me when I said that the prayer is that the chemo and radiation will work, but if there is a relapse there is a very good Plan B in the works. So, prayers are requested for the power of healing through the chemo and radiation. I will update more later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Daily Steps

A few random thoughts for today:

The past couple of months have been a bit of a reawakening to me (Surprise, surprise:). I have run the emotional gamut of pity and sorrow to acceptance to fight and destroy over and over again. I have looked at my wife and girls and come to cherish every single moment that I have with them, and I have looked to the future and started making plans, at least in my head, for things I want to do years down the road. Overall I have come to see this cancer as something I can use to share the glory of God in new and exciting ways.

After the surgery there was only one real pain that I had, it was a knot in the middle of my back that occurred because of the way they positioned me during the surgery. Three days ago that know finally went away and I have been pain free. Again, I see a blessing here, for the recovery process is going extremely well and by the end of the week I should be able to lift Scarlett again, which will be a huge joy (Yes I listened to my doctors and have not lifted anything over 10 pounds for 4 weeks).

In June I will be starting a new ministry here - the Cancer Prayer Support Group. This is for anyone who has cancer, knows someone who is battling or has battled it, and anyone who wants to help pray for and support those who have cancer. I will also open this up for any prayer requests for people with cancer throughout the world. I know that I have been blessed b being on prayer chains all over, and this is one way we can reach out and support others in similar situations.

Overall I am feeling great and excited for the next step, and I continue to pray that the chemo and radiation will knock this crap out for good and that the docs and nurses will be the healing hand of God in my life and in the lives of others.

Blessings to all of you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Video - The Healing Hand of God through Others

Good morning - I am embedding the newest video we have for our Faith Step Videos about how I have seen God's healing hand through the surgery and recovery process. God Bless.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chemo scheduled - and probably no wigs needed

Today I met with my oncologist and got my schedule for my chemo. Overall, again, it was a positive meeting. He did a physical exam and once again everything appears to be healing quite well. In a bit of a surprise, my blood pressure after the surgery has been better than it was before the surgery.

We talked about the second tumor that had been found on my heart. He said it was quite rare to have two types of cancer, but it had shown up on the PET scan, just everyone thought it was the same as my lung cancer. He also said there were some areas on my lung that we initially thought were cancer that after the surgery turned out not to be. So again, more positives because the cancer was not as wide spread as we originally thought.

We then started to talk about the chemo. I will be doing what is known as adjuvant therapy - this means that I will be having chemo after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain. I will be taking 2 types of chemo together, one session every 21 days and there will be 4 cycles. The two types are pemetrexed and cisplatin. With these two types of chemo, there is very little chance of hair loss, so I probably will not be getting to wear my cool wigs :(

With this type of chemo they think that overall I will be able to maintain a pretty normal work and play schedule. There will be times I am tired and worn out, and so I need to be careful I don't over do it, but the other side effects seem to be minimal, since so much can be covered with medication.

They did say that even though the actual chemo will only take about 45 minutes, there is a lot of stuff to do before and after the chemo, esp. hydration. So I should plan on 6-8 hour days when I do chemo.

I will be meeting with the oncologist one more time before I start - on May 17th. Then a week later, on May 24th, I will have my first session of chemo.

After my 4 cycles of chemo I will meet with the radiation oncologist and start that process as well, but that isn't for 3 months, so I haven't learned much about it as well.

I learned quite a bit today, and have lots more reading to do, but overall it was another good appointment. I am highly motivated to do this and get any remain cancer cells that I have in me gone! So three weeks, and the next step begins!