posted by Mary Lello, Wednesday, January 7, 2009, 1:31 PM
We discovered today that the oncology doctor, Dr. Tracy Weisburg, is absolutely fantastic as is her entire staff. They spoke about finding all kinds of ways to try and pay for the treatments we must get as well as putting us in touch with some of THE very best people in this field down at Dana Farber. And, I believe, Dr. Weisburg may be one of the best up here in Portland.
And she had bad news for us. The worst really. Jim's cancer is a grade 4 - which means it can grow back. Which means most of the people Dr. W. has ever worked with with this diagnosis has had the tumor come back. I will not write that it WILL grow back - but it can and has that history. Dr. W. says that our first course is to knock the remaining brain stem tumor and any remaining cells in there down and out with radiation and chemotherapy. Then we wait and see. If it doesn't grow back then she's done her job and we just stand watch. If it does grow back then we launch into plan B. Plan B offers more options now to brain tumor people then it ever has before. Even 18 mos. ago Dr. W. says things have changed drastically. In March there is a new treatment protocol that will be approved by the FDA and will be ready as a clinical trial for Jim to 'test' but which she has very high hopes for.
This woman is on our side. We all felt that today and I'm very honored to have her watching our back .... or brain ... as she instills confidence in her abilities as well as other treatments she will have ready and waiting in the wings for us.
So, now, we put our energy into stopping these cells. Stopping this growth. Stopping anything from taking root again and growing back .... and I'm not just talking about the use of chemo and radiation. We do have other means as well as these treatments!
And chemo is vastly different these days too. I'm remembering the chemo my best friend, Patty, went through 4 years ago as well as another dear friend, Kate, 5 years ago. The loss of hair, the horrible days of being so sick, the whole 'killing you with chemo in order for you to live' type of thing. Today Jim will take a pill at night so any nausea will just be slept through (as well as a little acupuncture for such condition to decrease the nausea) while he undergoes the radiation. The chemo and radiation will last 6 weeks with radiation daily 5 days/week and chemo pills every night at bedtime 7 days/week. Then a 4 week rest period and then we scan to see how we did.
Yes, we are scared. But I really liked what Dr. W. said to Jim today "we give you a little window of feeling sorry for yourself but once the treatments begin we want you on board, ready to fight and take control of this with a positive attitude". Yeah baby!!
And I've told Jim I will drag him down this path with my own positive intent and as clear a vision that I can muster ... but I would much rather have him walk beside me on this one.
We all know this man to be an endurance athlete who knows how to grit it out and dig real deep for any remaining reserve in order to make it to the finish line. Well, damn it, it times to really put that determination into play now! And I have never seen a more important finish line then one we are going to put our sights on.
We want and need you all on board with this one.