Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Little update...

more to come after today...

Joe sees the oncologist today. It's been over a month now (well, 4 weeks?) since he got the first go round of beads... They'll be running a CEA to see where his cancer markers stand (they were over 2000 when he had the first implantation). I'm excited, and nervous, to see where we're at!

We thought they were going to do another scan before treating the left lobe, but I reckon' not... Joe got a call last week, and we're set up to head downtown Friday morning for the procedure! I reckon' after 3 or so weeks, THEN they'll do a scan... see what can be seen. I'm thinking a PET, since that seems to be more accurate as far as LIVE tumors.

All of this is really exciting... knowing that there's got to be good results... that the cancer can NOT fight and mutate around the radiation... I can't wait to see how good of results we've gotten so far. Praying, praying... I'll update just as soon as I know something tonight!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sheesh! Where the heck is the time going?

Well, as I'd said previously, Joe went on March 30th and had his 6 million little radioactive beads planted... Still amazed... 6 million!!! 1/3 the diameter of a human hair!!! AMAZING!!! Came right out from the procedure to recovery, hungry as a bear! We were heading home by about 5:30. A MUCH faster day than the day they did the vein study.

We went to the oncologist's this past Wednesday... Still weren't sure whether he was going to get full chemo with the last available, just the 5-FU, or the Xeloda. I'd called and asked the doc's assistant the week before Joe was implanted, but she never did get back with me. Actually, I emailed her, but still... she never let us know. So... when the doc asked if Joe'd gone back on his Xeloda, I told him that I'd contacted Niki to ask her exactly what he was supposed to be doing, 'cause the PA had talked about infused 5-FU with the other chemo... Dr. S kept saying 5-FU... Xeloda is a pill that creates 5-FU in the body, but it's not compatable with the infused 5-FU in all situations. It was the Xeloda. So Joe got a little later start on it, but he's cookin' with both now... Doc upped the Xeloda to 4 pills twice a day. We'll see if Joe can maintain that. That stuff just eats his hands and feet up!

He doesn't got back for 3 weeks now... we just let everything percolate... When he goes back they'll check his CEA (cancer markers... they'd done them the day of the procedure and they were over 2200, up from a little over a thousand a few weeks before. Hard to imagine we'd ever been all the way down in the 60's!)... I guess he'll get with Dr. S and discuss whether they are going to do another scan (or scans), and determine whether they're going to do the procedure on his left lobe, or just let the Xeloda take care of it. If they do another PET scan, they can see exactly what is live and what isn't. Those things are SOOO cool!

Anyway... that's it for now... We just wait. God willing, all with do what it's made to do and get those tumors DEAD! Since we're not running hither and yon, hopefully Joe will be able to maintain at work and actually get a few full weeks in. Those 3-4 day weeks have just about killed us! He's had some days where he's come home wiped out, but doesn't just fall out when he hits his chair. He's more sociable. That's a good thing for me! Not necessarily complaining, but considering that I'm home alone all day, then he comes home, sits down and basically passes out until bedtime... It can get kind of lonely! It's been nice to have him come home and chat with me... to be able to watch TV together and him be knowing what's going on... I love my husband. I've missed him... the whole him...

Aside from all of that... we're just waiting for grandbaby 5's arrival. She's due May 8th, but they've told her basically anytime in the next 2-6 weeks. Stacy is hoping that Ashley goes around her due date... Chase's birthday is the 14th, and she's planning him a big outside bash. She doesn't want to have to cancel it while we all troop off to the hospital. LOL!

Keep praying that things are on the right track, and I'll update you again when I know more...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Here we go... Last post, I think we were waiting to see what Joe's options were going to be as to treatment, as he's pretty much run through all but two. There is a fairly new treatment... uses microscopic radioactive beads implanted in the liver to fry the tumors... and one last old chemo... We were on pins and needles for a few days, waiting to see if Joe was going to be a candidate for the radiation... AND HE IS!!!

We went Monday for part 1 of the procedure... a vein study. They went up through his artery in his groin and injected some dye and a tad bit of radiation to map out his veins... Some of them have to be blocked with coils to keep the beads from traveling to other organs (such as the lungs), which could cause issues. They placed 5 coils.

Next Wednesday, the 30th of March, we go back down and they do the actual radiation procedure... Approximately 6 MILLION little beads, smaller than a cell, will be put into Joe's liver. These beads carry 40 times more radiation than they could give externally... and they are geared to attack JUST the cancer tumors, so the healthy parts of his liver will be unharmed for the most part. Wednesday night, I'll be back on the other side of the bed... said the chance of me having any problems from it are slim to none, but they just recommend that I not sleep on the side that they've treated.

Just to keep the chances of overtaxing his liver down, they'll do the right side first... it's the larger lobe, and where he has more tumors concentrated. After those are settled in, we'll go back in 2-3 weeks and get the left side treated.

That PET scan was pretty cool! They'd never done one of those on him before. And we've never been shown any of the scans... Generally the radiologist reads them and just calls the oncologist, but since Dr. Smith IS a radiologist, he took us through them on the computer. So neat how they can see everything... bottom to top, top to bottom, left and right, right and left... He showed us Joe's liver all the way through.

They've always talked about his tumor load... and innumerable tumors, which doesn't sound good at all, but we were actually pleased to find that Joe's tumor load is at about 30%... That means that 70% of his liver is tumor free! The oncologist was amazed that Joe's liver function is so good, all things considered, but then he may not actually KNOW what Joe's tumor load is either... he doesn't really deal in that.

I guess the only real downside is that the radiologist wants Joe to do some chemo too, along with the radiation... And it being the old chemo, chances are, it could cause Joe some grief with nausea... He's never had issues with nausea before, but that's been because all of the treatments have been newer ones, with less adverse side effects. God willing, Joe will do his usual and just groove right along! He's going back on the Xeloda again too, which is what makes such a mess of his hands and feet... they were JUST getting back to normal! Ugh! He's still got his "Never say Die" attitude tho! Complete confidence that the Lord is going to heal him. He faded a bit here a few weeks back... was wearing out... The hope for this new treatment has bolstered him up again.

I will admit to still having a bit of fear... The good thing with the radiation and chemo vs just the chemo... the cancer cells can't mutate against the radiation. With the one-two punch, God willing, the cancer won't stand a chance. I'll have his back, whatever happens... and I know y'all have our backs as well...

Before I sign off here, I just wanted to add that I'm still saying prayers for Julie's sister... and for Terri's family who've been facing cancer as well... I hope and pray that all come through things with flying colors!

Okay... got a baby blanket to finish up... Have I told you that we're expecting another new grandbaby? We suspected, but found out for sure just after Christmas... Another girl... Due May 8th... This will be our 5th in 7 years... All girls except for Peanut... he still gets to be my favoritest boy in the world ever! I have a sweet spot for him... can you tell? LOL!

Hugs and lots of smiles!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Well, no treatment today... We sat visiting with the PA long enough for Joe's CEA to come back. Over 1000. They scheduled a PET scan and a CTs for next Tuesday. My heart is kind of in my throat right now. I know there are still options, but Joe's wearing out. Me too. I know God's on top of things. I KNOW He's got this covered. One way or the other. Just pray we have what it takes to let this thing run it's course.

Things have been busy...

so I've not updated for a bit... Getting ready to head out to treatment here shortly, so thought I'd bring anybody curious up to date.

After a wonderful Christmas, we got the bomb dropped the next week about Joe's #'s going back up. yay. A CT later, the decision was made to switch his treatments... again... So... we're on #4. Vectibix. He had one cycle... 2 treatments... and they ran another CEA. From nearly 400 to over 700! WTHECK??? Apparently, that's what the doc is thinking too. The CT and the CEA usually correspond with each other... The CT looked really good, despite a couple of BB sized new growths. More was shrinking/dying off than was new. Doc said he wasn't worried about the BB's... he just doesn't understand the CEA being so high. This is the highest it's been since we started in October of '08 when the CEA went from over 3500 down to 315 with just a couple of treatments with the Folfox treatment.

Our last visit we actually SAW the doc, not the PA... He said we were going to give it another cycle... 2 more treatments... then run the CEA, AGAIN! Well, today is #2 of the 2nd cycle. Next visit, they'll do the CEA and see where the #'s are. IF they're going up still yet, he's going to order a PET and CTs to see what is happening inside. Depending on what those show... we may be on to option #5. Radiation.

There is a treatment that was actually developed for treating liver cancer... but what I read was that it actually shows better results in treating colon cancer that has matastisized into the liver. They shoot the liver up with millions of microscopic beads of radiation (not the clinical term, but you get the gist). The beads work their way into the blood vessels that supply the tumors and knock them out... kill 'em... wipe 'em off the face of the earth... hopefully... They do this... I think Joe said, every 3 months and check it?

If that does the trick in shrinking and killing off more of the tumors, then they will likely go back with a bit more chemo to irradicate any stray cancer cells possibly floating around in the blood stream.

That's the plan for the cancer part of our lives... I'll come back later to update on the good parts of life... I have to run get ready right now, or we'll be risking a ticket on our way to the Cancer Center... See ya' later!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Well, it's been a month + since I've been back here...

Things have been busy... took me a week or two after Christmas to finish Christmas up... I was running a bit behind... Then I discovered a new craft. Button jewelry... FUN!!! Made a set for my niece's birthday... granddaughter #1's birthday, and two necklaces and a bracelet and earrings for sale. Just have to find a buyer, or they'll end up gifted down the road, I guess. Fun to make tho!

Unfortunately, just after Christmas, our Happy Cancer Bubble got burst... or maybe just pricked... They ran Joe's CEA at our December 29th visit... Oh... we were sooo hopeful! Just before Joe was finished with his treatment, we finally tracked down the results... 390? 490? I can't even remember at this point (I'm thinking it was near 500, so musta' been the 490)... Doesn't matter, really. They were going the wrong way! We'd been a 117 or something (can you tell I'm losing my mind? haha...). Well, we walked to the exam part of the Center, and saw our doc standing there... Joe told him about the new #'s. He was surprised... concerned... Said he'd look into it before our next appointment. Well, this is where I, again, get torqued... They run these labs every two weeks. If WE know what they are before we leave, THEY can know what they are too. If they're looking at something like his cancer markers, then it seems to me that they could find/take the time before we're back in two weeks to LOOK at the results and have a plan in hand BEFORE Joe takes a day off work and we drive down there for treatment... Only to be told what we already knew. CEA was high... not going to treat today... Gotta' get you set up for a CT, then come back next week and we'll proceed. CAAA-RAP! In two weeks, Doc or the PA should have looked at the results... called and said, "CEA is up, let's get you in for a CT..." Joe would have gone and had it done BEFORE the two weeks was up, and when we went in, we'd have been set and ready to go. Instead, it puts us back a week...

Our lives revolve around Joe's cancer and treatments. Anything and everything that we do, and don't do, depends on Joe's treatments, how he's feeling... He misses work due to his side effects sometimes... those days have to be made up, or we're out $. Add in a wasted day and wasted gas going down there, and we're out more $$. We get ourselves set in a routine that we adjust everything else to, and then because they can't take a few minutes in a two week period to look at Joe's #'s... We're all upside down. They just can't seem to get that through their heads. Oh well...

So, Joe had the CT. While it still showed some shrinkage in the tumors, there also appeared to be a couple new growths. I guess they error on the side of caution, assuming the new growths are malignant, so... It seems that the treatment we started in June/July has stalled out... too... So, we're on treatment #4. Vectibix. I have always been anxious with starting a new course of action, but now more than ever before, because it's looking like we're running out of options. Every treatment thus far has started out like gangbusters... getting in there and kicking cancer butt... CEA going down rapidly in the first few months... then blah. Knowing that we're nearing the end of the road in things they can do... I'm just all over the place with this. I am so nervous, edgy... stressed to the max. I can't focus, can't function. I know Joe's worried about how he'll do with the new treatment, but he knows that I'm spazzing out, even tho I try to keep it under wraps around him... I'm just holding my breath, hoping against hope. In our 3rd year of treatment here, and my nerves have just stretched so tightly... I'm really about to snap. I try not to dwell, but it's hard when it's just always right there... riiight there!

I'm so thankful that I've had this time with Joe that I might not have had otherwise... but it's so hard... all of this dragging out... getting our hopes up, and then... I'm just slap worn out. I really try hard to maintain a happy, smiling facade of normalacy, but sometimes my "happy" slips.

I've got my neighbor calling over here... I KNOW she has depression issues... she gets depressed over anything and everything... I've gotten to where I have to avoid her, because it's all about her, her, her. I know that's the way her mind works, and I try to knock her out of it sometimes, just by trying to draw a parallel between her life and mine, and show her, she really has nothing to feel depressed about. Yeah, it's bad for everybody right now, but she's so blessed in so many ways. Not that I'd trade my life with Joe for hers, but sometimes, it'd be nice to only have to deal with the things she has to deal with. Some people refuse to see how good they've got it, even when they have others suffering all around.

Well, now to go and try to occupy my mind with other things... Thank goodness for laundry and dishes and dirty shoes! LOL! Hugs, Susan

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Didn't want the day to pass without wishing all a most blessed Christmas! Today we've celebrated Joe's 3rd Christmas since his cancer diagnosis. It's been step by step, sometimes baby steps, but man... 3 years after a stage IV cancer diagnosis is pretty awesome! (well, not 3 years exactly... 2 full years and 2 months, but 3 full Christmases... 3 birthdays... Cool!!!)

We had a great day at Mom and Dad's... Some strange family dynamics going on, but all that were there had a good time... lots of good food and laughter.

Hope that everybody had a good day... that your blessings were many on this wonderous Holy day. Love and hugs, Susan