Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Change is Good

The past three weeks have gone by so quickly. We had several downs, with some ups mixed in. But we're staying strong.

The bad news: Tom's latest CT scans are showing increased tumor activity in his lungs. The good news: they are very small, and not obstructing his airways in any way.

With new tumors, that means that the trial chemo is no longer working. But there's good news there too - the trial chemo attacked the cancer in his liver, with those tumors knocked down by more than 80% over the past six treatments. Now they're just tiny little buggers, not nearly so scary as they had been. His doctor is quite pleased with this, and reminded us that the liver cancer was the most life-threatening, so she feels he's made major progress.

Since the trial chemo has done it's job, Tom's doctor has taken him off the trial and has now switched him to a different chemo therapy that specifically targets lung cancers. One of the things we've been very happy about with the U of Michigan staff is that they are quick to move in a different, positive direction when it's necessary.

At first Tom was quite disappointed to be taken off the trial chemo study. But when he learned that the next rounds of chemo will specifically work on his lung cancers (the other cancers appear stable right now), he realized that he was getting excellent care and that it's definitely in his best interests to move forward with the next set of drugs. We're keeping our fingers crossed, since this pairing of chemo drugs has worked well for others.

He had his first treatment today, and will repeat it in two weeks. It went well - so far - and we'll wait to see if he has any side effects from these different drugs.

He'd taken a five week break from chemo to let his body become stronger, which initially was a good plan. The idea was to give his body a break from all that toxic treatment, and allow him to gain some weight.

Unfortunately, he had a severe drug reaction to two prescription drugs he'd been taking for chemo side effects. These caused him to have zombie-like symptoms to the point where his brain just wasn't working at all - his conversation was non-existent (I should have video'd this, since anyone who knows Tom knows he can't be quiet for more than 30 seconds). He was showing Parkinson-like tremors, and he was having a difficult time mentally processing even basic information. His doctor took him off the offending drugs, but that caused him three straight days of severe nausea. Oops - a side effect of the side-effect drugs! Finally, it's been resolved by finding a new drug to replace the two he can't take, and he's been feeling a bit better these past few days.

He's also been sleeping a lot, which is always worrisome to me just because he can't eat when he's sleeping, and one of my major goals is to stuff him full of good food. Or even not-good food. I actually smile when I now see him eating a Whopper. He's actually eating meat! And if eating meat means it's a Whopper, I don't care. It meets our criteria - high calories and protein - and it makes him gain weight. The more weight he can recoup, the stronger he'll be in his fight against cancer.

But right now he needs rest more than anything else, so it's time for me to let up on the feeding frenzy. That made him quite happy - no more stuffing-of-Tom for a few days. Today's weigh-in at the doctor's office was a nice surprise - even though he couldn't eat for five days last week, he only lost a half-pound of weight, much better than we expected. So Tom gets a temporary food-reprieve, at least until I find a new recipe that I want him to guinea-pig for me . . .

1 comment:

Alice said...

Thanks for the update, I've been wondering what's been happening with you two. Glad to hear the chemo's working and that Tom's weight is good. All your excellent cooking skills! You're both still in my thoughts, just haven't done much except work lately.