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What I’ll Miss About Texas…

I’ll miss the signs at the entrance to every building. I knew I should have packed my gun rack for the back window of the rental car.

I will truly miss our wonderful friends Mary and Russ and their sons who made us feel like family our first week here. I will also miss everyone at Excel Diagnostics who took such excellent care of me, treated Kathy and me with kindness, and who administered my therapy expertly and compassionately. This is a trying experience for everyone involved, but if you have to go through it I can’t imagine a better facility or a better group of people.

I’ll miss the other patients I met who are battling through this same ordeal. I am so hopeful for good results for each of them and wish them the very best. Our paths will likely cross again during future visits to Houston. This is a horrible circumstance to meet others in your same position, yet comforting to find gentle kindred spirits.

Today was my final scan at the medical facility. 20 minutes and I was done. The morning started with a visit to our hotel room by one of the techs who brought her gieger counter. First she scanned me (my external radiation has already dropped to a fraction of what it was two days ago.) Then I left the room and she scanned everything in my bedroom and bathroom. Apparently I followed instructions fairly well. The only things we have to take home and hold in isolation for six weeks are my clothes from the day of the procedure, a bath towel (I swear we’ll return it), and an absorbent floor pad from the bathroom. After six weeks we can wash the stuff and it will be fine. I’m supposed to keep my distance, especially from children, pregnant women, and pets until Wednesday.

I’m feeling a little more nauseated today. Apparently that’s to be expected for a couple weeks. Ugh. I’m also just wrung out, tired, and very homesick. Kathy and I both can’t wait to fly home tomorrow. I’ll still be holed-up in our bedroom when we get back, but at least it will be our own bed.

I’ll be heading back in October for my second round of therapy. That visit will only be about 5 days as I won’t have to do the entire first week of scans over again.

I’ll post more when we’re settled back at home. Take care.

PRRT Today

Yesterday Kathy and I took advantage of our last day with nothing scheduled and headed down to the Kemah Boardwalk. That’s a picture of Kathy looking out toward Galveston Bay at the endless line of huge container ships sailing past. We enjoyed a great seafood lunch at Landry’s. Then we went further south to Galveston. I’m standing on the beach there with the Gulf of Mexico behind me. We didn’t realize how many cool historical homes and buildings there were in Galveston. It was a fun and relaxing day.

Finally this morning, after all of the scans, tests, and preparation, I started my first round of PRRT. There’s a picture of my recliner where everything was administered and a look at my view out the window. They started the amino acid drip first, which is administered to protect my kidneys. That caused an immediate flushing episode that was pretty uncomfortable, and caused intermittent flushing over the next four hours. 30 minutes later they started the PRRT drip, which only lasted 30 minutes. That was completely uneventful and had no noticeable side effects. When the PRRT was done, they did a scan.

Every hour or so I got a dose of anti-nausea meds because the amino acids were also making me queasy. That’s fairly common. After a couple more hours I had another scan, and the tech said she could see that the uptake of lutetium into my tumors was good. So the drug has been delivered and now we need to hope and pray those little radioactive isotopes get in there and toast my cancer cells.

We’re back at the hotel now and I’m feeling relieved, fatigued, and a little uncomfortable all over. I’m really happy that Kathy is here to help take care of me. Things are a little crazy because we have to stay in separate beds, use separate bathrooms, not come near each other and she can’t come into contact with anything that I’ve worn or handled. Friday they’ll send a tech to the hotel room to scan everything for radiation. Anything that’s “hot” will have to be bagged up, packed away, taken home with us and left to “cool off” for a prescribed period of time. Fun.

Tomorrow and Friday I’m confined to the room since I can’t be around anyone else, but I do go in for a follow-up scan each morning. These scans won’t measure the success of the therapy per se, just the radiation uptake and to make sure that my kidneys are eliminating the excess radiation. We’ll only know how successful this has been over time and after additional treatments.

Well, if I wasn’t tired before, I really am now after writing this. Thanks for reading and take care.

Doctor Visit

We said goodbye to Mary, Russ and their sons today. We had such a great time with them that the week went by too quickly. Incredibly gracious hosts – thank you!

The meeting this afternoon with Dr. Delpassand went well. He first took my history, then discussed PRRT in general terms and explained why he felt it was a good option for someone like me because of the potential for positive results with relatively few side effects.

He then went over my various test results in detail. Everything was basically as we expected with regard to my tumors and their  locations (liver, diaphragm, lymph nodes, lung, etc.) No real surprises there. He then discussed the PET scan and said mine was negative. This is a good thing because it means my tumors are not taking in a lot of glucose and are therefore not aggressive. This is both good in general terms and also because it makes me a better candidate for positive results with the PRRT. Then Kathy asked him about the bone scan. He said that was negative as well, which means that they didn’t find any bone mets: more good news. All things considered Dr. Delpassand said I’m a good candidate for this therapy so we’re very hopeful that it will be effective.

The greatest potential for harm from this therapy is to your kidneys. To counteract that they give you amino acids to help protect your kidneys. Taking the amino acids reduces the possibility of kidney damage to just 1%. When I show up Wednesday morning they will start a 4-hour IV with those amino acids. About 30 minutes into the amino acid drip they start the actual lutetium (radioactive) drip, which will only go for about 30 minutes total. I’ll sit for 3 more hours while the amino acids keep going. They’ll do some scans during and after all of this to make sure the lutetium is being taken up by my tumors as they expect. It’s actually the amino acids that can make you nauseous, but that should pass after the first day.

This picture is of some of the Excel Diagnostics staff as we were giving them a garlic braid. Cathie, Bouchra and Susan are all great and have been very helpful. As soon as the photo-op was over they started cutting up the braid right away and were handing out garlic to everyone in the office.

Tomorrow we’re probably going to visit Johnson Space Center, and maybe head down to the coast before the big day on Wednesday. I’ll post more then. Take care.

Relaxing Weekend

We’ve been enjoying ourselves just hanging out in the pool. It’s a great way to beat the heat.

The picture below is at Minute Maid Park during batting practice. The exposure isn’t great, but that’s Kathy standing next to Russ and Mary with their son Steven in the middle. It’s a great ballpark, but it was a bit of a letdown to see the Giants get hammered for the second day in a row by the worst team in baseball. They actually gave out free “Los Astros” t-shirts last night, and I’m wearing mine right now because it’s cheaper than therapy. If the Giants get swept today the shame will be unbearable.

Tonight will be our last night staying with our friends in Spring. Tomorrow we’ll head to the hotel in Houston following the afternoon doctor’s appointment. I’ll post more after that.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

TGIF

Aaahh, the scans are all done. Woohoo! No more IVs until next Wednesday. Double Woohoo!! Today was the fourth and final octreoscan, about an hour lying still in the machine from Monday’s picture. That was followed by an IV injection of the glucose tracer for the PET scan. We sat around for 45 minutes while that was absorbed by my tumors, then had the actual scan in the machine above. It’s the same machine I had my CT scan in yesterday. The PET scan was also about 45 minutes. Then that was it.

We’re going to take it easy this weekend, catching a Giants-Astros game tomorrow at Minute Maid Park. No plans for Sunday. Monday afternoon at 2:00 we meet with Dr. Delpassand to hear the results from all of the scans this week. I’ll post more after that meeting. Have a great weekend.

Almost Done with Scans

Today was pretty easy. Just about an hour in the same scanner for the third phase of the octreoscan. The imaging plates slowly rotated around my body giving them a pretty cool 3-D picture of tracer uptake in my tumors and elsewhere.

That was followed by a CT of my abdomen, something I’ve had done dozens of times. First they had me drink a quart of contrast that they says tastes like a chocolate milkshake (lie) then they gave me an IV in the back of my hand for more contrast. That’s usually no big deal but the vein blew out so it was a little painful.

We were done in time for lunch and a leisurely drive back to Spring. I’m feeling much better being back on my regular injections. Tonight I have a special high protein, no carb diet in preparation for the PET scan tomorrow. The PET tracer is a glucose analog so they want your cells to be very hungry for that tracer when it comes along.

More tomorrow after my final scans. Thanks for stopping by.