17 February 2009

What's New

Today we went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute to see what they could tell us about Ford's cancer. Wow!! About two and one half hours of information, explanation, and examination left us both with a lot to grasp.

Before I write any of that let me tell you about what happened on the road. There had been a major snow storm approaching Utah and all of the predictions were that it would start snowing about 7 pm on Monday night and continue straight through until late Tuesday and even possibly into Wednesday morning. The bulk of the storm was supposed to be during the morning commute time and then again in the afternoon just about commute time. I had been concerned all night. I looked out at 7 pm. No snow. At 8 pm still no snow. Up during the night and no snow. Again I checked about 4 pm and it had begun to rain a bit. By 7 am, Ogden and parts north were getting pounded. It was moving across and closer to Salt Lake. At 8 am reports were that it had started snowing in SLC and as far south as American Fork. We planned to leave early to give us enough time to go slow if we had to. We left at 8:30 am and we arrived at the Huntsman Institute around 9:30 am. The whole corridor had opened up and was clear all the way. While we were in doing all we had to do, it snowed several inches and someone told us there had been major white-outs. As we left to go home, along the foothills it was slushy and snowing but not too bad. As we drove nearer to I-15, the weather tapered off and the roads were wet, but not bad. Crossing over the Point of the Mountain, the roads were fantastic and almost dry. We were truly blessed today!

The highlights of what we learned at the Huntsman are:

The doctors believes that Ford only has 2 forms of cancer, the MALT and the Diffuse Large B Cell cancer.

They also believe that he is Stage IV - A which is better than a B.

They also believe that he will respond well to treatment.

They believe that the cancer in the lungs might be the MALT and not the Diffuse Large B Cell.

Dr. Glen told us that along with Ford's losing weight, one of the biggest risks we face is that the cancer will perforate a lining like an intestine or a lung or bowel. That would be big time trouble. They will be working to prevent that. I will be working on keeping him from losing any more weight.

They would like three more tests done before beginning treatment.
1. PET Scan--to help determine how far and where the cancer has spread and what type might be where.
2. Cystoscopy--a CT scan from years before show the same thickening of the bladder with very little change. The doctor has doubts that the thickening is cancer, but because Ford's dad has had bladder cancer, they want to make sure.
3. Echocardiogram--they believe that Ford's heart is in good shape, however this is a precaution because in case there is a problem, it would change treatment. One of the drugs used can cause heart damage.

Other things we learned: there is a possibility that there was MALT as early as 2005 when he had the bleeding ulcer. The stomach was already affected and the ibuprofen created enough irritant that it began bleeding. The ulcer was cauterized and "healed" to the best of knowledge. (This was during the ACL tear and repair, subsquent blood transfusions and then blood clots in legs and arms) Because MALT is low grade and slow progressing, it went undiagnosed and the ulcer reappeared. It is probable that the Diffuse cancer developed from the MALT.

Anyway, we go back to the Huntsman Institute on Friday and Monday for the tests. Then if nothing major develops, Ford begins chemo next Tuesday. It will be around an 8 hour process. Subsequent treatments (one day every 3 weeks) will take less time by a several hours. The first is the worst. For most, 6 months of treatments is enough to kill the cancer.

When my mind begins to decipher and make more sense of all we were told today, I may post more. If anyone has any questions, ask away. Don't hesitate to call or contact us. You won't be bothering us. Personal visits, however, will be very limited.

We are immensely grateful for your prayers and support. The prayers are being answered and we gain strength from them. Everyone has been so wonderful. Thank you.

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