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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.

Great News

Kathy and I just returned home from a quick 2-day trip to Southern California. I had some scans and tests at Cedars-Sinai yesterday and today, then we met with my oncologist, Dr. Wolin, late this morning. The purpose of the trip was to follow-up after completion of PRRT in Houston. The great news is that Dr. Wolin said he was very pleased with the results! The imaging showed that many of the tumors in my liver and lymph nodes have shrunk. Other tumors have remained stable, and there are no signs of new tumor development. These are very good results and prove that the PRRT was effective.

I’m so happy that this journey we first decided to undertake last May has paid dividends. It feels great to be at a stable place with my health for the time being. I’m slowing regaining my strength and energy and feel much better than I did just a few weeks ago. I return to Houston in early May for a quick follow-up visit, then back to see Dr. Wolin again in late May. The hope is that continued monitoring will indicate things are status quo for some time to come. I’ll keep having my monthly injections to help with symptom control, though a little more good news is that the dosage will be reduced so I only need one giant, uncomfortable injection monthly instead of two.

Thanks for checking in and following along. I’ll post more as there’s news to report. Take care.

Scans are Done – Hello Weekend

I’m very happy it’s Friday and that this long week of scans and tests are behind me. The last two Octreoscans were completed about 2:30 this afternoon, and now Kathy and I have the next three days to just relax and hang out.

Tomorrow afternoon/evening we’re going to head over to College Station, TX with Mary & Russ to check out  Santa’s Wonderland – A Texas Christmas Experience. Of course everything is bigger and better here in Texas, blah, blah, blah, but it should be fun nonetheless. I imagine that here Santa has 10 reindeer and that they’re longhorn.

Of course we’re somewhat holding our breath until we meet with the doctor on Tuesday. I’ll post more when we get the results.

Have a great weekend!

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.

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.

More Scans – Day 2

I think it was actually a little hotter today in Houston than yesterday. Incredible. I suppose you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, except I heard a report that it’s so hot all of the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs.

Today consisted of more scans on the same machine that was in yesterday’s photo. First was a renogram to check for kidney function, then a bone scan. Different blends of the same radioactive isotope were injected for the imaging. The kidney scan is done to make sure that my kidneys are functioning okay since that’s where next week’s radiation therapy will settle aside from my tumors. They need to be confident that my kidneys will be able to handle the influx of radiation and then effectively clear it from my system.

The bone scan was done to look for the possibility of bone metastases. That scan went from head to toe. Afterward it was evaluated, and then they did a follow-up scan on my abdomen to get a better picture of some areas that they wanted to look at a little more closely. Ideally the first scan would have been enough, meaning they didn’t see anything. We’ll find out the results of this scan, and all of the scans from this week when we meet with the doctor on Monday afternoon.

I also had to stop taking my injections yesterday morning since that drug can interfere with some of the imaging. It’s the first time I’ve been off of Sandostatin for years, which helps control my symptoms, and today I’m not feeling so great. Lots of flushing and discomfort, especially after eating. I get to start my injections again tomorrow evening and can stay on them until Monday, when I’ll be off of them again. Hopefully this therapy will be very successful and will help knock down my carcinoid syndrome symptoms.

Through it all, the people at Excel have been great. I’m also very fortunate to have Kathy by my side every step of the way.

Tomorrow afternoon will bring a couple rounds of octreoscans and an MRI. I’ll post more then. Take care.