Thursday, October 20, 2005

Send positive vibes!

Here's some news from Steve.

It’s been a long time between updates; thanks for all the inquiries, and sorry for the delay and the length of this post. Much has happened between August 17th and October 20th, but we’ll save the non-medical stuff for an update that we promise will come much quicker than this one has.

Tanya finished up 15 whole-brain radiation treatments about a month ago, and aside from some memory hitches, has had relatively few side effects up to this point. She woke up with vertigo midweek last week and felt nauseous when standing and when lying down which made gaining relief especially difficult. Hoping to drive the devil away, Tanya headed off for a shower. Unfortunately, the morning wake up/refresher shower didn’t help matters at all, and any idea of going into work was reluctantly nixed.

Tanya’s updated objective was to return to work by Friday. We hoped that symptoms would subside as quickly as they appeared, and in time for Friday’s chemo session. Again, no joy. The indications were relayed to Tanya’s onco doctor and he thought the symptoms significant enough to eighty-six the chemo and advised that we head off to the hospital to find out what the cause of the dizziness and queasiness was. So, doctor’s orders in hand, we headed off to the hospital emergency room.

Last time the ER was a grind, and we prepared for a repeat of the drudgery, hoping that Tanya would be able to squeak in early and avoid the Friday rush this time. The stars aligned in our favor this time, and Tanya was able to move into an ER room, have an MRI, eat a Friday’s chicken quesadilla, then move to her own room--all in less than 4 hours!

The MRI was read by several doctors, but we were primarily interested in the radiology doc’s observations, as the physicians making rounds were not in agreement and their pronouncements pretty vague. Fortunately, the radiologist was not equivocal and said that, compared to the previous MRI, there was improvement. So, thankfully, it looks at this point like the brain radiation has done some good! It is also possible that this same radiation caused some damage and is causing Tanya’s loss of equilibrium and consequent nausea. There are other simpler possibilities for the balance problem, e.g., an inner ear infection. Fingers crossed...

After nine courses of chemotherapy, Tanya is going to switch regimens. Gemzar will be dropped in favor of Xeloda. Gemzar is responsible for the precipitous drop in white blood cells each time Tanya has chemo treatments, so the change is welcome. Xeloda is a drug (to oversimplify) that fights the growth of cancer cells by inhibiting cell division. Oh yeah, it kills cancer cells too! It is taken orally, so Tanya won’t have to sit still for so long on certain Friday afternoons. Cocktails anyone?

We are still waiting for a physical therapy schedule, and the prognosis is good for recovery of balance, even if it turns out that there is radiation-caused damage. Apparently, vestibular rehab therapy can help compensate for this type of damage with various techniques.

There will be more tests in the coming weeks, so please keep Tanya in your thoughts and prayers, send positive vibes, mojo, hoodoo, energy--whatever good stuff you have! It’s working--Tanya is happy, smiling, and in good spirits even when bouncing off the walls in the hallway. (She claims to be morphing into a human pinball.)

Thank you again for being an incredible support network for Tanya. You make a huge difference and words fail to capture the import of your visits, generosity, caring, help and consideration.

- Steve
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