Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Big Guns

Mom, Dad and I got to hang out at the Huntsman Cancer Center today.  Dad had his regularly scheduled MRI and visit with Dr. Coleman et al.  It was a long anticipated visit for us... and a long visit overall.

Halloween Eve Dinner
Over the last little while Dad has been loosing functioning- especially with coordination, strength and balance.  He has fallen just about every day, multiple times a day.  We've had some near misses between Dad's head and the corners of furniture, which keeps us all on constant watch of Dad's movements.  Dad's a big, tall, solid guy and it takes a lot of effort to get him back to his feet.  The right side of Dad's body has little strength which complicates the whole getting up off the floor process.  It is very scary to me when he falls, and heartbreaking to struggle with him to get him back up. 

So, with that in mind, we went to the Doctors today searching for answers and help.  This is what we got:

- There is virtually no change in the MRI images.  Dr. Coleman noted that the angles were slightly off and so a bit hard to compare, but overall he didn't see any MAJOR changes.
- Upon further questioning, he did say, "Well you might be able to argue that this area is a little more dense."  Or "This area back here is slightly brighter."
- Dad's symptoms (lack of coordination, strength etc.) maybe be due this "possible" denser area or due to residual permanent side effects from radiation and surgery
Dr. Coleman pulled out The Big Guns and recommended that Dad start treatments of avasitn.  If you recall, Dad was on a double blind study related to avastin.  After the stroke they pulled him off the study to see what treatment he was having.  The concern then was that Avastin is known to cause strokes.  We found out that Dad was not on Avastin.  Dr. Coleman was relieved because that gave him another weapon to attack the Deathstar with later down the road.... and it looks like we've come to that point.  We've been told from day one that Avastin is the heavy hitter, the last resort.  I think the three of us were a little shocked that even though there were no major changes in the MRI, that Dr. Coleman would recomend Avastin.

Dr. Coleman explained that if these symptoms are being caused by the tumor and swelling of the brain, we would see at least a leveling off of loss of function, and some improvement.  "How fast?" I asked.  He said that some of his patients see improvement within days, some within weeks, and for sure by his next visit in a month.  If they are due to permanent damage to the brain from surgery and radiation then the Avastin would have no effect.

I'm thinking of it in terms of a preemptive strike against a possible rapid recurrence.

Starting Friday Dad gets to go every two weeks for infusions again. I guess it's a good thing that Mom and Dad moved to an apartment just down the road from the Cancer Center last week.  Dad will also continue on the 5 day a month chemo treatment.  Now that Dad has stopped working (that happened officially a few weeks ago) he's eligible for home health care.  We are looking forward to some added aid and therapy for Dad. 

We are giving our all to fight for life and to improve quality of life for Dad.   We thank you for all the help and support you each have given in the way that is possible for you.  We truly appreciate it and ask for continued prayers, well wishes, and good thoughts sent Dad's way.  We could all use them!