Spring/Summer 2004 - The Highs & The Lows
Time flies when you're having fun and that is what we have tried to do over the last several months! In May we got the news that 1) the tumor was the same size on the CT scan and 2) there was still activity on the PET scan. There was no way to tell if the tumor had shrunk and re-grown or had been stagnated but that seemed to be a moot point since the PET scan still showed it as a "hot spot". But there was good news, the chemo had seemed to kill the hot spot that had previously shown in the lungs.
Seems as though there was not much to do at that point except monitor the tumor and try to live each day to the fullest. So we did! The highlight was our 12 day motorcycle trip to Pennsylvania where we took in Thunder in the Valley in Johnstown, PA. Mike got to meet Chuck Navasky, founder of "One Less Tear" - talk about emotional moments! [Chuck is a two-time throat cancer survivor himself.] As in our journey with cancer, there were highs and there were lows, but it was worth it.
After our return from Pennsylvania we started the round of doctor appointments once again. It was obvious to us that the tumor was growing, in fact so rapidly that we could see it increasing on the surface of the skin. A decision was made to resume chemotherapy, this time using Taxol. While there was no chance of killing the tumor completely, it was hoped that we could either shrink it and/or slow the growth.
As of this writing, Mike's 63rd birthday, the tumor has shrunk - at least externally, and slowed it's growth. Mike has tolerated the chemo quite well, having taken five treatments to date. They will continue as long as 1) it appears to be effective and 2) tolerated. The side effects are different from his first round with Cisplatin. Fatigue is the major one followed by hair loss. Due to decreasing blood counts, although not extremely low, they also give him Aracept every other week. He takes many different medications now - for pain, nausea, gastritis, insomnia and more. Not something he is fond of but realizes that maintaining his quality of life is important and controlling side effects and symptoms are part of that.
The final update is work related. Mike has continued to work full-time throughout this entire process. There are days when I know he wished he was home in bed, but working also helped him maintain his sanity and almost constant positive mental attitude (I gain my strength from him). His employer has recognized his contributions as well as what he is facing and has allowed him to now work from home. This has provided us with the luxury of relocating to Tennessee.
In addition to selling a house, buying a house and moving, we are also going to be attending a mini-reunion in October which will be attended by close family and friends. During the event we will be renewing our wedding vows. We had planned on doing this at our 20th anniversary (about 16 months away) but felt this was the perfect opportunity to do so as well.
I hope that anyone reading this doesn't lose heart with their or a loved one's battle. Each person's journey is different and personal. For us we choose to only look at what we have been privileged to share in our lives together, a lot of highs and a few lows.
Highs and lows...isn't that what life is all about?