15 July 2009

Drumroll, Please...

This is an edited version--7/19/09-- from the info previously posted.

Yesterday Ford had his appointment with Dr. Glenn, the oncologist that has been treating him at the Huntsman Cancer Institute to determine if the 6 chemo treatments were enough or if he would need to receive more.

She checked him over, asked him question, and then talked about the results of the PET scan taken on Saturday and his current lab results.

It appears that the chemo treatments were successful and Ford will not have to receive any more treatments.

He will need to have another endoscopy to get biopsies and allow an actual visual look at what the stomach looks like compared to when he was first diagnosed with cancer. We anticipate that procedure will take place in the next week or two. We are waiting to hear back from that specific doctor's office to schedule the appointment.

The oncologist focused on two main areas of concern, the lungs and the stomach. From the copy of the PET CT report we received, this is basically what has happened:

The swollen lymph nodes are no longer swollen. The density seen in the lungs has significantly reduced with many of the nodules gone.
There was a nodule in the right lower lobe of the lung. It used to measure 2.5 cm and has now been reduced to 11 mm. In the left lower lobe there was a density measuring 2.5 cm that is now 12 x 7 mm.

The stomach wall had a thickening of 2.0 and now measures 16 mm.

The liver, spleen, pancreas, and adrenal glands are normal, as are the kidneys. There was no sugar uptake in the bone tissues.

There were more areas affected than we were or have been aware of, however, these seem to have been resolved.

If the biopsies come back with good news, then Ford will officially been in the recovery phase, no longer a patient, but a survivor of the Diffuse Large B cell lymphoma!

The MALT lymphoma, as the doctor stated, is still somewhere in his body, but has presumably been "beaten back" with the chemo treatment. We will need to be vigilant and watchful to any changes in the future.

What happens now? Ford has been advised to pace himself. Do not take on too much at once. Start resuming activities, yet be cautious not to overdo or overwhelm. His body will take some time to recover from what it has been through. Some of the effects of the chemo may take more than a year to clear through his body. His body is also recovering from the effects of hyponatremia, aspiration pneumonia, blood clots, and an enormous amount of medications.
Although Ford is able to get a lot more sleep lately, he wakes up exhausted. My personal opinion is that there is also a physical and mental "let down" from the stress of the past 6 months.

He will have to tune in to what is happening and respond accordingly. One pattern has become clear, that if he doesn't take a break or a rest when he needs to
during the day, he gets overly tired. Then he doesn't sleep at night and it becomes a vicious cycle of exhaustion. This past week he has been good about laying down for a while a couple of times a day. It seems to have served him well because he has been able to get many more hours of continuous sleep.

The lab results from yesterday were showing great improvement. The doctor indicated that he was anemic, which is normal at this stage, and that he would improve with time. His WBC count is climbing and is actually in the normal range for the first time in many months. The other levels are returning to normal ranges.

Ford is scheduled to return for his next PET scan in three months (October). If everything looks good, then for the next appointment (three months later), the doctor will determine if a regular CT scan will suffice. CT scans are less radioactive than PET scans.

At the end of August, Ford will see the pulmonologist, Dr. Alward, to determine what course to take with blood thinners. At this point, the doctor and Ford determine whether he should remain on blood thinners and switch to Coumadin (an oral med vs. the daily shots in the stomach) or risk no meds and future blood clots. With blood clots having actually reached the lungs, we are guessing that the risks are too high not to take the meds from now on. We will see.

Thank you, again, for the prayers, love, and support. They have yielded miracles.

Some have expressed apologies for not visiting, sending cards, or contacting us more. If all you have been able to do was to include us in your prayers and thoughts and hearts, please know how immensely important that has been to us. It has been enough.

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