Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Little NE Fun: Stokes' Restaurant

Laurel "Stokes" Alberty

Just Get It DONE!

OK, so patience isn't one of my strengths. Unfortunately, I will have to work on that character building as we take the long path toward getting to the other side of cancer.

We went to Nebraska for the second time and got the news that my PET was not only positive but the uptake was higher (8.9). Fortunately, Dr. Armitage is determined to cure me and I am lucky that my cancer is one that can even be cured.

So let's just get this thing done:

I've already done round one of R-ICE treatment at Emory. This is a 4 day chemo treatment that requires admittance to the hospital. Around 1/3/08 I will do round two of R-ICE at Emory and then have a PET two weeks after the first day of the second treatment (approx. 1/17/08).

If the PET is clean and I am in remission, I will go to Nebraska for stem cell transplant. If not, then round three of R-ICE and another PET. If still not clean, then some radiation and on with stem cell transplant.

Stem cell transplant:

This is what I think I know, but I have not watched the video yet. I think they take out my stem cells (basically my immune system), then I get a huge dose of chemo...R-CHOP again....then they put the stem cells back. It takes 6 weeks minimum and I will be in Nebraska for this procedure.

After the transplant, I will come home for a month to 6 weeks. Then I return to Nebraska for radiation over about 4-5 weeks.

Finally, I should be DONE!!!!

So, again, it is a much longer road than I thought I signed up for (did I really sign up for this???), but there is still hope and a plan for the intended outcome. Speaking of outcomes, I have not asked for a prognosis b/c I do not want to know the odds at this point. I am staying on the step I'm on (great advice from Steve) and staying positive thanks to all of you great friends and family!!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Not so scary after all...

is the name of a Halloween book Walker received from his grandfather. It is all about how some things are scary at first and when you find out what they really are...they are not so scary after all. This is what happened in Nebraska...

When we left for Nebraska, this is what I thought I knew:

I had a 4 cm tumor with 5.8 uptake (live cancer) and I had spells of shortness of breath and occasionally could barely breathe at all. It seemed that the chemo treatment was not working anymore and that it was likely that I was going to have to play the stem cell transplant card which is usually in reserve for a recurrence. I could not imagine anything that Dr. Armitage would say that could make feel better about the situation other than that we still had a battle, that we could win, ahead of us.

Not so scary after all:

Dr. Armitage did the usual history and examination. Then, he said the best and most unexpected might be in REMISSION!!!

Long story...short:

I have a 4 cm tumor that is mostly dead. There is only a halo of live cells around the tumor. These are expected to decrease as the chemo continues to work. A PET/CT at 6 weeks past the last chemo will be a better indicator.

The next step:

We are headed back to Nebraska 12/11 for another PET/CT and to meet with Drs. Armitage and Enke (the radiation oncologist) to discuss how to proceed based on the results. If indeed I am improving, we will continue with radiation as anticipated. It is likely that I will need 20-22 days or approximately 4 weeks - 5 days a week.

The cough/shortness of breath:

I was told that it was either bronchitis or pneumonia. I took some pretty strong antibiotics and used an inhaler that improved my shortness of breath. I am now back to my regular chores which makes Stephen (who has been a champ about doing everything) very happy :)