Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back on Course

As we were driving home from chemo today, Dan and I were discussing that there are probably a lot of questions swirling out there about the change in treatment and our overall general life these days. When we heard waaaaaay back in June that we were going to have to switch treatments, we were all geared up for an immediate change to our lifestyle. And that didn't happen right away- we traveled and were more busy than ever. Perhaps we, along with those around us, were lulled into a sense that things weren't really going to change. I think for those that stay in touch by reading the blog, this is especially true because when we read, it's tough to gage the real tone or intentions sometimes.

As Dan wrote in his last blog, the decision was made to stop Tarceva (pill-based medicine) and move on to a more rigorous chemo treatment. The growth between the last scan two weeks ago and the prior scan in September was more than the doctors were comfortable with given the short time span. This, along with the return of the cough, left little doubt that it time to move on.

Dan will have 2 rounds of Avastin and Taxotere- the more traditional drip chemo that requires an IV. He had his first round today, and the next will probably be three weeks from today, assuming the schedule works out. Three weeks from the second treatment, right around Thanksgiving, he will have another scan to see if the treatment is working- meaning that the cancer is either stable or decreasing. This treatment regime is more severe than what he was on (Alimta) for almost 2 years. So, he may lose his hair and we will need to watch his blood counts more closely. I don't care about his hair- as long as he doesn't lose that smile that I love!

I know some people wonder why they can't just take the cancer out- I thought the same thing myself. Most likely, the could remove the spots on the liver. However, surgery alone wouldn't remove the underlying cause of the tumors which is why we need chemo. And as long as they aren't doing much damage, the tumors are actually helpful in seeing if the treatment is effective by monitoring their size.

As far as today- it really wasn't anything new. Dan has been at this on and off for almost 3 1/2 years, and I have been with him for all but one appointment in the past 15 months- we were on familiar ground with familiar faces. The treatment lasted about 3 hours, plus the normal time for bloodwork & processing. Aside from being a little tired, Dan is doing well, and we are waiting to see what side effects hit over the next few days- Dan hasn't been on these drugs before so we aren't sure what we are dealing with yet.

You may want to know what you can do for us- We don't need anything other than 100% positive focus & prayers for good results in 6 weeks, and that the side effects are manageable until then. As Dan said- things will have to get worse before they get better, so we are trying to prepare ourselves mentally for even more down time in the weeks to come.

Emotionally, you go through the wringer a bit before stepping back into treatment. There are a lot of thoughts that make their way into your day- most of them aren't ones that are easy to share.

A few weeks ago, I was reading the blog of a pastor dealing with cancer and was reminded of the story of Pandora's box (which I think was really a jug). You may remember that the myth explained the origin of women. When Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to the humans, Zeus enacted revenge. Zeus sculpted Pandora from clay and bestowed her with many wonderful traits- beauty, wit, cunning, charm, etc. He also gave her a jar and told her never to open it, and then shipped her off to Prometheus to marry. Prometheus didn't fall for it, but his brother did and married Pandora.

One of the traits Zeus granted Pandora was curiosity, and it eventually got the best of her. She opened the box and out flew hate, anger, jealousy, sickness, poverty and every awful thing in the world. You can imagine how horrified she was when she realized what she had done. Then she noticed one last little sprite struggling to get out of the jar. Deep down inside the hateful jar was the only thing that sustained humanity in its times of sorrow, pain and misery- hope.

I am sharing this story today, because it reminds me of two things. First- you have to get all of the negative out in times like this- they are in there and can be too much to hold back. And even though those are tough emotions to go through, hope will eventually sustain you. After all, it takes a lot of energy to deal with negativity and counter-act it. Second, it's much easier to hope for the best possible outcome. Even a little sprite like hope makes all the difference going up against the big guys.

As my mom said to me back when Dan was hospitalized at the end of April, when every single doctor (erroneously) told us the cancer had aggressively spread- there is nothing wrong with a little hope.


hughesd2000 said...

Awesome post Meg!! Thanks so much on the update on what has been going on for you guys the last few days and weeks. I think about you guys all the time and think about the struggles you both go through everyday. We will continue to pray for you everyday. Remember, I am only a very short and convenient flight away if you need a friend to lean on!! We love you and will always have hope!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Danny and Meg, Sorry I could not be there with you today. i will be back home on Thursday. Holly c alled me on her way home and gave me some update. I also appreciate Meg's writings from today. My prayers are alwasys with you both. i wish I could do more. I am glad to see you will keep that spark of hope alive. I love you so much! mom Cicily

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Shawshank Redemption -

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies."

Keep on truckin' Dan.


Anonymous said...


It's Nina's birthday, so there's cake. Cake is good and ice cream is better, especially after chemo. While we miss you here, you are exactly where you need to be and letting your body rest and sending the message to the cancer cells to respond to the chemo from yesterday. We are all thinking of you and sending you and Meg our love and healing energy. We want you right back here where you belong after that chemo has done its work and here's hoping the cough will soon be wrestled to the ground as well.

Rest comfortably and know we are keeping you close in our hearts,

Anonymous said...

Meg, that was very well-said. There is always something to be hopeful for. Maybe I'll send you the NCCS booklet on being hopeful ;)

Dan, I think I have some wigs you can borrow in case you lose your hair. I've got a long strawberry blonde and a red curly one. Your pick.

To Ellen's comment, I think we should institute Dan's Post Chemo Cake Parties after every treatment. Just a thought...


devon said...

Thinking of both of you and sending all good wishes your way!


Patrice said...

Danny & Meg,

We are all praying hard that this new chemo will work...I am sorry we could not be there. Keep me posted on the next appt so I can try to come.

We love you!
The Urbans

Anonymous said...

Oh, Meghan and Dan,
Thanks for your updates--your unrestrained honesty, your intimate questions laid bare, and the ruminative thoughts so effectively narrate what you both are experiencing--it's an experience that those, like me on the outside of such a journey, do very much appreciate--it gives me understanding and information that I would not have access to. How brave and steadfast you both are--oh, what lessons we can all learn from you. Thanks. Paula