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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.

Back for More

Kathy and I are at the airport waiting to fly to Houston. This will be round 3 out of 4 of my PRRT therapy. We’re very fortunate to get to spend the first week of this two week trip with our friends Mary & Russ at their home in Spring, TX. I’m also excited for the opportunity to actually finally meet a dear friend on this trip, a fellow noid who had been on a parallel journey to mine for several years. She has undergone PRRT and will be in Houston for a follow-up visit.

I’m at the point now where I’m actually feeling pretty good, and somewhat dreading going through this procedure again since I know it will make me miserable. What I’m most looking forward to is being completely done with round 4 in late January so that I can begin to fully recover without getting knocked back down by the therapy.

In spite of the discomfort, I am so thankful for the opportunity to have this procedure available to me. Especially now, during the holiday season, I am incredibly appreciative of of the donations given by so many that have made this all possible. Thank You!!

This week I’ll be undergoing the gamut of scans and tests that I had during my first visit in August. Next Monday, the 12th, we’ll be meeting with the doctor to review all of that and discuss my progress. The actual therapy will be on Wednesday the 14th. I will keep all of you posted with updates here along the way.

Take care.

Visit with My Oncologist

I just met with my oncologist today. This was a regularly scheduled follow-up to my first two PRRT treatments. I’ll come back and see him again when all four treatments are complete, probably in late February. He is pleased with how things are progressing, and confident that I’ll see substantial benefit from this therapy, particularly after all four doses are administered.

It’s been two weeks since my trip to Houston, and I’m still feeling wrung out, sick to my stomach, and having to make way too many trips to the bathroom. If this is anything like the first round I should start feeling quite a bit better in another week or so. I was hoping that this time would be easier on me, but no such luck. My doctor today said that I can take more “rescue injections” of octreotide at home to help ease some of the symptoms.

I’m back at the office on a regular basis, working as many hours as I can tolerate. At home Kathy is a saint – putting up with my issues while dealing with her own (including a sprained ankle right now). I’m looking forward to feeling significantly better by Thanksgiving so I can enjoy our big family celebration.

I’ll post again soon. Thanks for stopping by.

Just Hanging Out in Houston

The PRRT infusion went according to plan yesterday. It made me feel sick and tired, but a little less so than the first time. The worst part is the amino acid IV. For whatever reason it really aggravates my hands and arms where the IV is and they ache horribly the whole time. Today is a little better.

I had a follow-up scan this morning, and will have another tomorrow morning. During that visit tomorrow the doctor will meet with me to discuss the results of all of these scans. I’m really looking forward to getting some definitive information about the effectiveness of this therapy.

For now I’m just hanging out at the hotel, trying to get some rest. I talked with two of the other PRRT patients this morning at the clinic. We’re all staying at the same hotel. It’s great to see and hear how others are doing, and to feed off each other’s enthusiasm about this process. I’ll post more tomorrow after meeting with the doctor.

Round Two

I’m back in Houston for my second round of PRRT. I flew in this afternoon and had an MRI. I’ll get the results of the MRI in the next day or two which may give me an early indication of how effective this therapy is after only the first of four treatments. The tech was nice enough to leave my IV in from the MRI so hopefully I’ll have one less needle-stick in the morning.

Tomorrow is the actual infusion of the radioactive therapy along with the amino acids to protect my kidneys. It’s the exact same process as last time, with follow-up scans on Thursday and Friday, then flying back home Saturday. Because this is a much shorter trip Kathy stayed home to help save some money. I’ll be in the treatment room all day tomorrow with one of the other patients I met on my first trip. We ran into each other at the hotel, and will have lots to talk about as we sit there for five hours.

Thankfully Houston is a little cooler (still about 90) and a lot less humid than it was in August. My interesting travel story is that the TSA opened my suitcase to inspect it, I guess in San Jose, then LOCKED it shut with the built-in lock. I haven’t ever carried that key, so I had to get a locksmith to open my suitcase for me here in Houston. I’ll be sure to find the key and keep it with me from now on.

I’ll post more after my therapy. 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.