Monday, October 29, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Time for a little concern

I had an appointment with my Dana Farber oncologist late Wednesday afternoon and it appears the trial drug is not a magic bullet for me.  While all my other lab results are really good except that I am a little bit anemic, my tumor markers have risen from 101 to 126.  It's a disturbing trend, and there has not been any downward turn at all with this drug.  I've been on it for about 9 weeks.  I go back again on November 16th; and unless my tumor markers have reversed direction, it will be time to discuss the next treatment plan.  I'm disappointed, but it is what it is. 

The next likely treatment plan will include carboplatin.  The platinum drugs have been proven to be effective against ovarian cancer, and triple negative breast cancer is similar genetically.  It won't be an easy regime - hair loss, nausea, low blood counts - pretty much the same as last summer's Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxol treatment.  But I'd like to try and give it a knockout blow while I have the physical and emotional strength to do it. 

It's possible Dr. Chen may have other ideas.  There are many clinical trials and she may think that one of them is a good fit.  So we'll have to talk about the pro's and con's of my options.  In the meantime, I'm in a bit of a scary holding pattern. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Camille Jeanne Haven

August 20, 1929 - October 22, 2012

My mom passed away peacefully last night at the hospice facility in Merrimack, NH. 

For those who hadn't heard, we arrived back home last Thursday (3 days earlier than planned) because Mom suffered a massive aneurysm on Wednesday morning.  Allison and Christine rushed to the hospital, then kept watch over her until we could get home Thursday evening.  On Friday we moved her to a hospice facility - those people really are angels - where she died late last evening.   We were all there for her. 

The picture was taken two years ago at Powell Gardens, just east of Kansas City.  It's a beautiful place and she enjoyed going there.

I also took this picture of the inside of the chapel, with mom sitting in one of the pews.

Peace be with you, mom.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Entering the "no cancer zone"...Day 1 in Long Beach

We had a nice, uneventful (the best kind!) of flight from Boston to Cincinnati then on to Los Angeles.  Our luggage was almost the first on the carousel, we boarded the bus to National and picked out an almost new Ford Flex - an interesting choice with lots of room for our luggage.  And lots of room for passengers (which came in handy today when we were able to squeeze three of us in the middle seat and a wheelchair in the back storage area.   It's quite comfortable, lots of technology and gets really crappy gas mileage, which is a pretty big deal here in SoCal where regular unleaded is averaging close to $4.68 a gallon!!!

After hitting the sack at about 10 p.m., waking up at 4 a.m. (gotta love jet lag) then rolling out of bed for real at about 6:30, we had breakfast then took a nice walk to Downtown Disney.  It's about a mile away and we enjoyed the walk, especially since we knew we weren't going to be part of the crowds that were heading into Disneyland itself.  The hotel "proudly" serves Starbucks coffee, which I really dislike, so we found a nice coffee shop and enjoyed a cappaccino.  The good news is that the coffee situation will improve dramatically on Thursday when we can look forward to some really good Kona coffee!

We met up with Rick's family and headed to Mimi's Cafe for lunch.  It was great to see everyone and catch up on family news.  The brothers haven't been together in several years, so it was a great reunion. 

Ed, Rick and Bob

Bob, Jeannette and Rick

After spending a couple of hours visiting with Bob and Sheri, we drove to Newport beach for dinner.  We found a restaurant on Newport Pier, had a cocktail while enjoying a beautiful sunset and dinner. 

Those are oil rigs just to the left of the sun
The pet pelican greeted us as we walked into the restaurant

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The horse is in the stable!

Aloha my friends!

We're getting ready to leave this morning for our trip to Long Beach, CA to visit Rick's family, then we leave on Thursday for the Big Island of Hawaii, so today is the last of any "cancer talk".  The trip will be mostly a "no cancer" zone, especially once we board the plane on Thursday. 

I had a CAT scan on Friday and after hanging around Dana Farber all day waiting for the results, at 4:45 I learned that my cancer is stable.  Woohoo, the horse has been corralled a bit (the head is out by just a nose), the clinical trial drug seems to be at least somewhat effective, and I can go off on vacation knowing that things are generally good.  I will stay in the trial until the next scan - which will be in about 8 weeks.  The scan did show a 4% increase in my tumor load.  But fortunately, my load is small so 4% of not much is still not much.  My tumor markers stayed steady at 101 (normal is below 38 and it was 101 two weeks ago) but my CEA actually went down from 0.8 to 0.5 (normal is below 2.5).  If this number is meaningful at all, it would seem to indicate the drug is doing something good.  Dr. Chen was on vacation and I didn't address the question with her PA.  Next time.

So now this blog will, once again, become a travelogue.  You can look forward to stories and pictures of our LA/Long Beach/Catalina Island adventures followed by our nine days in beautiful Hawaii.  Our son Ron and his lovely partner Christine will be joining us in Hawaii, so we expect to have a fun time and do a few things we might not do if we were there on our own.  One big experience will be witnessing the Ironman Competition in Kona on 10/13.  Many of the world's finest athletes will be competing and this is probably the biggest event in Kona each year.  Fabulous beaches, the volcanoes, the scent of plumeria, Kona coffee and beautifully-presented food - looking forward to it all.  And we'll try to take in a little of the old authentic Hawaiian culture.  This is, I believe, our sixth trip to the islands so you know we love Hawaii and will enjoy every minute. 

I think I'm going to try parasailing!!!