Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010

Entry by Kurt: The morning started at 5:30 a.m. A very long day at the hospital today. The PTscan was not as horrible as mom thought it would be. It wasn’t like an MRI tube but they managed to give her some valium to relax her anyway.

They injected high levels of glucose in to her blood stream. The glucose will attach itself to cancer cells and tumors and make it a lot easier to visualize in a scan.

After the scan we had a few hours so we went to Gyros West in Waukesha for brunch. we had some good laughs and amazing french toast!

The scan showed that mom’s tumors are in her neck lymph nodes. There are no visible tumors elsewhere in her body. That’s VERY good news.

The type of cancer is a neuroendocrince tumor. This is a very rare form of cancer and is only seen in about 1 in every 200,000 cases. Leave it to Barb to get the rare forms. Some of you may recall that years ago while camping in Montana the locals assured us that a bear had not been spotted in that area in 20 years. We left for a morning outing and came back to our tent completely mauled by a black bear! And then there was the time that Grandma and Grandpa (Dad’s parents) used their attic for storage and never once saw a bat. You guessed it. Mom headed up the stairs first only to be greeted half-way down by a bat! So when it comes to the not-so-popular things in life – you can be assured that Mom will find it. That’s what she did in this case.

This cancer (abbreviated NET) falls under two classifications. 1) carcinoids and 2)pancreatic. So you can imagine how blessed we were to hear that it is not pancreatic cancer as the survival rate for that is pretty low. We did not get particular survival rates for the NET carcinoid that has taken up residence in moms’ neck but 50-60% of the patients who survive the first 3 to 5 years will have beaten the disease. So we’re in for a long fight.

The treatment will begin on Monday, May 10th with the placement of a subcutaneous port under the skin near the collar bone. This will actually make life a lot more pleasant for mom. This is the port (we’re likening it to a beer-keg tap!) in to which they can put medications and draw her blood. No IV needles for mom.
She will being chemotherapy treatment on May 11th. We will be at the hospital most of the day. The chemo will be three days and then wait a week, then three more days, wait a week etc. During this time she will also be receiving radiation treatments 5 days a week for about 3-5 months. Yes, it’s a long haul.
This can be an aggressive form of cancer but they feel that they have caught it early enough to attack with full guns and full army-reserves.

We would like you to meet her oncologist and all-around nice guy, Dr. Christopher R. Hake. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison and did his residency and internship at the Medical College of Wisconsin here in Milwaukee.

So how are we doing? Well we are very tired from today and we’re in for some very long days. The hospital is about an hours’ drive from here and we’ll be there 5 days a week for the next couple of months. she's still got her sense of humor. Scared is a good word but as I told Mom in the car ride home – we usually gain all of our strength and courage from our fears.

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