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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another weekly update

Walt has now had 2 rounds of chemo and nearly 1/2 of his radiation treatments.  Both the radiation* and hematology oncologists are pleased with the way things are going.  He is showing signs of radiation burns on his back and chest but they are minimal right now.  We'll start applying the gel more frequently to keep this to a minimum.  Because the radiation is accumulative, these spots will probably get larger or redder over the next few weeks.

Our radiation oncologist is stuck in Denver because of all the snow so we saw another *radiation oncologist.  He'd not seen Walt before but said right away that he looked great!  He reviewed his chart, checked him over and said that he was quite happy with the outcome thus far.  Always good to hear another opinion that echoes the others.

And that book thing?  Today we didn't even have time to get it out of the bag!  The tech joked about it, too.  Wonder if she spots us coming in to the building and times her steps into the waiting room? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

About that book tip...

It is still working!  Maybe a little too well!  Today we checked in, got into the waiting room, took off our coats, sat down, I opened the book bag and handed Walt his book.  He no sooner opened it up and the tech came in.  We started laughing and she joined in.  'At this rate you're going to have difficulty finishing that chapter, Mr. Kesselman.'  'At this rate I'm just trying to finish the page!' answered Walt. 

He did have to have a tape changed on his left side because it was coming loose.  The tape is placed over the black Sharpie marks to ensure they last longer.  I could just see it getting caught on his shirt and he'd have to be re-marked at his next visit.  Whew, they were able to take care of it without any problem.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1/3 the way through...

Hard to believe Walt is already 1/3 the way through the radiation schedule.  We saw the radiation oncologist today for a weekly check-up.  Thus far he's not detecting any problems with Walt's lungs or airway and there have been no side effects.  Yay!

The book thing is still working...just saying.  At this rate he might get a few pages read in his book but any serious reading will have to wait until he's having a chemo treatment.  Chemo is scheduled for Monday the 25th.  The day will be fairly long as there is quite a lull between radiation and chemo appointments.  Since we have nothing else on the calendar this will certainly fill up our day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sheesh, what a lucky fella!  Not only did he get 2 cards and a gift from me this morning but he got a Valentine, a heart-shaped cookie and candy from the radiation department! 

By the way, pulling out the book is still working...within 2-3 minutes of our arrival (about 15 minutes ahead of our scheduled time) he's on his way to being radiated.  1/2 hour drive each way and about 20 minutes in radiation...not bad but I can think of other things I'd rather be doing with my mornings. 

Tomorrow will be his 10th treatment...still doing well...still tattoo'ed with black Sharpie and tape dots...still not enjoying the morning application of gel. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Onward and upward

Today we met with both the radiation and hematology oncologists.  Both are pleased that Walt is not experiencing any side effects at this point and is tolerating both radiation (7 treatments to date) and chemo (only 1 but the 2nd is scheduled for the 25th) very well.  We know that this is only the beginning but we're happy with the results thus far.

We have discovered that if you open your book to read while waiting, you'll be taken to the treatment rooms much sooner than if you sat there talking.  Maybe we won't have to go to the library as often as we thought.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Walk with us

December 4, 2012...we learned that Walt's needle biopsy of his left lung revealed that he has non-small cell cancer.  A PET scan would determine if the cancer has spread elsewhere in his lungs.  Unfortunately the scan did reveal a questionable area of the lymph nodes around the right side of the airway.  We headed to Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, MO, for an endo-bronchial biopsy which revealed that the area was indeed cancerous.  An MRI was scheduled to make sure that the cancer had not metastasized to his brain...a favorite hangout for this kind of cancer.  The scan revealed positive for a brain, negative for cancer cells.

I will tell you right now, in case you haven't figured us out, humor (dark or bright, funny or not-so) will be helping us stay focused and sane.  Well, as much as that can happen.  lol  We'll be sharing anecdotes; all true...there's no way any of this could be made up! 

I'll share this little gem with you...all the hospital buildings and a hotel at Barnes are linked with enclosed walkways.  It's really nice and efficient.  But there are some twist and turns, even dog-leg bends.  During one trek from the hotel to the south hospital we got separated.  We'd been holding hands so I'm not sure what happened.  Next thing I know I'm pulling on Walt to get him to hurry up.  I turned around to ask if he needed to sit for a moment and catch his wasn't Walt!  I'd grabbed some other poor soul's hand and was taking him with me!  Gasp!  I was so apologetic...then frantic.  What happened to Walt?  Where was he?  I backtracked and a woman called out 'He's back there!'  Oh great, now others know I've lost him!  I continued retracing my steps until I found him.  We laughed and laughed until we were crying.  To this day I don't know how it happened, but happen it did.

Mid-January...we met with the oncologist and radiation oncologist.  Walt will be treated with chemotherapy and radiation.  His chest has been marked with a black Sharpie indicating the area to be radiated.  I have some ideas about notes I can put on a Post-It note on his chest.  When the time is right I will.  

Here's a thought.  So through all the tests, scans, etc. we've determined that Walt does indeed have a brain and a heart.  I already knew he had the courage.  So where is he hiding the red slippers?  And are those flying monkeys nearby???

So he's in the Infusion Suite having his first chemo treatment when the nurse comes in to let us know that someone from radiation will be right in to take him down stairs for his first treatment.  Slow down, sister, the first person to arrive at the door was a custodian and her cleaning cart!  I doubt seriously that she was there to take Walt downstairs!  Boy, did we all have a good laugh over that!

To help the skin be less irritated, etc. from radiation, a wound care gel was prescribed for the area (front and back) to be applied twice a day.  Well, gel, by nature is cool, right?  And it's winter.  So I squeezed some gel onto my hands, then put my  hands on his chest.  Yeow!  He nearly hit the ceiling, calling me a sadist, etc.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  He said I was having way too much fun at his expense with this. 

The treatment plan:  we anticipate Walt having radiation Monday through Friday all this month and next.  The treatment doesn't last very long, in fact, it takes longer to get him in place and take pictures than it does to radiate his chest.  Chemo infusion will be given once a week, every 3 weeks, through April.  All this is subject to change based on blood work and other tests that will be scheduled along the way.  He's fortunate that this was caught early and that, all things considered, his health is good.  
In support of Walt's cancer and the distinct possibility he'll lose some hair, I decided to cut off my curls and go short, too.  And I love it!  

This cancer is the hand that has been dealt us and it is what it is.  We're taking each day as it comes and living it to the best of our ability.  We know we have a huge support team of family and friends from all over the globe.  For this, we are so, so thankful.  

Don't expect daily posts, we'll write when we have a story to share or news to tell.  You can comment here if you'd like (and know how) or reach us by email or phone.   Until next time....