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More Good News from Houston

Kathy and I are hanging out at Houston Hobby airport waiting for our flight home. We’ve been here since Monday for a routine visit three months after my final round of PRRT. I had several follow-up tests and exams at Excel Diagnostics including a MUGA scan, renogram, bone scan, MRI, CT, and octreoscans. I also had the gamut of lab work last week. All of the results are good. The imaging shows continued tumor death in my liver and other areas. Some areas of tumors in my lymph nodes and diaphragm are stable. There is no evidence of disease in my bones. My kidney function is normal, and there is no sign of toxicity in my kidneys from the PRRT.

A couple of the most dramatic findings are that the overall tumor bulk in my liver is down to about 25%. A few years ago as much as 40% of my liver was involved with cancerous lesions. The doctor showed us the MRI of my liver and the difference from then to now is amazing. Also great is the fact that my neuroendocrine tumor markers are all the lowest they’ve ever been. These include cga, neurokinin a, serotonin and 5HIAA. That last indicator is the one that surprised us the most because it’s what helped to diagnose me with carcinoid back in 2005. At that time my 5-HIAA level was 87. The highest that indicator has been in the last six months was 55. My test last week showed it at only 15.

The hope now is that this therapy will continue to work over the next several months to further reduce tumors, and that I can enjoy up to five years (or maybe more?) of tumor free progression. I will continue to have follow-up scans and tests on a regular basis. We still have to work out the details but I should be able to have the majority of that work done at Cedars-Sinai in LA rather that having to return to Houston.

We’re so thankful AGAIN to our wonderful friends Mary and Russ who opened their home to us this week. We feel like part of the family and really enjoy our visits with them. While we won’t miss the humidity here, we will miss the people and the great care. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to receive this therapy.

Done With Final Treatment

Today was my fourth and final PRRT treatment and I’m so happy to have that behind me. It was typically uncomfortable, caused a good deal of flushing, and took the usual multiple sticks to get the IVs going. Regardless of the pain, the people at Excel were as wonderful as ever.

One of the doctors spoke with me to let me know that yesterday’s MRI showed the results we wanted: stable disease and no new tumor growth. That good news of course makes everything worthwhile.

I sat through therapy with another patient from California who also sees Dr. Wolin. It was somewhat amusing because we were both passing the time reading the Steve Jobs book. When I told her I was from Gilroy she said, “Oh yeah, I go to the Outlets.” It was also entertaining today to watch the Texas sized thunder and lightning. As I’ve stated many a time, I will never miss the weather in this place.

I have the usual follow-up scans tomorrow and Friday, then fly home Saturday. I come back in three months for another round of follow-up tests. Right now though I’m very tired so I’ll hit the hay and write more soon.

Ready to Head Home

I had my final post-scan today, and we got our hotel room swept with the geiger counter. Everything is a go for us to return home tomorrow. Kathy and I are both anxious to get on that plane and get back to Gilroy.

The therapy on Wednesday went pretty well. I had the expected pain, flushing and overall discomfort with the amino acid drip. The radiation infusion went off without a hitch. It only took three sticks to get two IVs started, which is a great batting average with my arms.

Yesterday I felt better than I did immediately following my first two treatments. Today, not so much. I’m feeling queasy, tired, weak, and dealing with lots of flushing. The supposition is that all of this is brought on by the cancer cells getting fried and thereby releasing more of the hormones and other junk that make me feel lousy. I know I will start to feel better in a couple weeks, but for now this is miserable.

I’m three quarters of the way done with PRRT. There’s no question that all of this is more tolerable knowing that it’s having a positive impact. As I’ve stated before, however, I really look forward to getting that last treatment behind me late next month so I can really begin to recover without getting knocked back down.

I’ll be sure to post again sometime next week when I’m feeling a little better. Take care.

Good Report

Kathy and I met with the doctor today at Excel Diagnostics and the news was good. The various scans show that my tumors are responding to the therapy, with some of them shrinking and some stable. There are no signs of new tumors. My bone scan was negative. My kidney and liver function are fine. My blood markers that indicate various levels of cancer related junk are trending in the right direction.

All of this will help to slightly soften the blow of tomorrow’s therapy, which I unfortunately know is going to make me miserable. Right now I’m just looking forward to getting this done and getting back home. Kathy, as always, has been a trooper and continues to support me and tolerate all of my nonsense. With a little radiation these next few days I’m certain to light up her life.

More to follow post-therapy…

Weekend Fun

We had a great time last night at Santa’s Wonderland outside College Station, TX. We took a hayride through the amazing light display shown in the pics and video above. Texas did not disappoint, with the enormous lighted state flag, the mobile-home sized “HOWDY”, and of course, the well-appointed longhorns. After taking in the sights we had some good old Bar-B-Q at Ruby’s.

Today we just relaxed around the house and took a good walk. I got a Team Texas photo of Scott, Russ, Mary and Steven sporting their Brian’s Carcinoid Warrior shirts. Tomorrow morning we’ll do some laundry, pack up, and say goodbye to our wonderful friends as we move to the Residence Inn for week 2.

 

2 Scans Down and a Bunch to Go

We’re huddled in Houston where it was a brisk 47 degrees today, a full 60 degrees cooler than our trip in August. This time I asked for the blankets while I was in the scanner for 20 and 30 minutes at a time.

Today’s scans were a renogram, to make sure my kidneys are functioning well to flush the radiation; and a bone scan to check for mets. Over the next few days I still have an MRI, CT, and several Octreoscans which measure the uptake of the radioactive material by my tumors. It took four sticks to get my IV started today. UGH! I hate IV’s. I have a bunch of lab work tomorrow morning and I’m really hoping they can find a vein on the first try. We’ll get the results of everything when we meet with the doctor next Tuesday afternoon (the appointment got switched from Monday).

Kathy and I love the staff at Excel Diagnostics. As miserable as all of this is for me, the people there really make it okay. We get big hugs like we’re old friends and we laugh and joke our way through the day. Thank goodness for friendship and humor. Speaking of which, we had a wonderful time today meeting Candy, a kindred spirit who has been going through all of this right along with me. A pancreatic NET from SoCal, she had surgery similar to mine at Cedars nearly three years ago and started PRRT here about a year ago. Done with her therapy, Candy’s back in Houston for some follow-up scans. She has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and someone that Kathy and I have both leaned on. We get to spend more time with her tomorrow and we’ll all grab some dinner together.

Mary & Russ are great hosts and we feel right at home here. It’s great to have a place to just relax and unwind in the evening. I think if we had to stay in a hotel for two straight weeks during this I might go crazy.