February 23, 2012

A Bit of Hope

Yesterday my younger brother took my mom down to see my dad at the hospital.  By the time I got there about 1pm, one of the doctors that he had been treated by in the ER had been in, and they increased his seizure medicine.  They will continue to tweak it today to try and prevent anymore seizures so that he can come home.

We saw the special radiologist about 2:30.  She agrees with his regular oncology radiologist, he is a perfect candidate for the concentrated radiation.  It is actually a form of what they call radiologic surgery, even though there is no cutting involved.

This morning he will have to have another, much more detailed MRI of his head.  This is so that they can map out the exact angles and such they need for the procedure.  At 1pm he will be having a special mask made, that he will wear during the procedure so that his head doesn't move even a smidge.  Then they are hoping to have the meds at the right level so he can be released home.

Next Wednesday morning, he will meet with a neurosurgeon from Boston who is coming up here.  Once he does that, the special radiologist and the neurosurgeon will get together and get the plan all mapped out for the procedure (strength of the dose of radiation, angles, etc).  We are praying by next Friday he will be having it done.  If not, then the following Monday.

The radiologist was very positive about this being the best option for my father.  Some things he has going for him (based on my own research):

-Small cell lung cancer that travels to the brain doesn't change it's characteristics.  Thus someone who has a good radiotoxicity (good results from former radiation), will also do well with this type of treatment.  His lung cancer is completely gone after his treatment 21 months ago.

-He only has one tumor.  This procedure is not as successful in those with multiple tumors.  Whole brain radiation is better in that type of situation, but it also has more neurological risks afterwards (memory issues, etc).  They will keep him on a tight schedule of scans afterwards, both to make sure this tumor is being affected, but also to watch for the start of any others that might crop up.

-His prognosis goes down a bit (they aren't actually giving us a time frame), due to the fact that he will be 70 in September.  But, and this is a huge one.....His attitude and mental determination to fight and win this battle is over the top.  I firmly believe that this is a huge factor in anyone's fight against any form of illness.  Especially terminal illness.

-He has a great support system in both my mother, my brothers and I, and close family and friends.  He will get annoyed with us, as we hover and try to make sure things are what they are supposed to be, but he knows that without this he couldn't fight this.

There are no guarantees.  There never are in life, but after seeing the specialist yesterday, we are all cautiously optimistic.   There were smiles all around after she walked out of the room.  I am the one who can't help but go find research papers online to read, and while I am trying not to give my mother false hopes, I am filling her in on some of what I am finding.  We may only have him for another year, or we could have him for another 5.  No one knows.  The biggest hurdle is to get through this treatment, and take it day by day.

We are also praying that the aphasia he is suffering from right now will ease up once the tumor has begun to shrink, and pressure is relieved on the brain.  He can still talk, but he struggles some with finding a particular word when trying to talk to us. Mom and I joked that we are getting pretty good at finishing his sentences for him.

He has had a slight tremor in his left arm for years (he is a lefty).  It is now a lot stronger, and he struggles to feed himself and such because the minute he tries to use it, it tremors horribly, which is very frustrating for him.  I think I understand this more than anyone, because I get similar tremors due to my CRPS, in my dominant right hand and arm.  I told him, he will just have to work on becoming a righty, just as I have learned to depend more on my left hand.

There will still be swelling after the procedure, so they will be keeping him on all his medications he is taking now, to prevent that and seizures.  He is fine with that, he just wants the treatment. :)

So, a bit of a sigh of relief maybe?  We aren't counting our chickens before they hatch, but maybe a glimmer of hope?  Time will tell.

My must do things today, are to go to our local nursing home and tell his cousin what has been going on.  We are very close to her, but we didn't want to tell her anything until we had some answers.  I know she is going to be upset, so I will make sure the nurses know what is going on before I talk to her.  She helped raise us, being my parent's primary babysitter when they worked and we were little.  We spent as much time at her house as we did at our own.  She and my grandmother were first cousins, and grew up together, thus the closeness.  She is my 3rd cousin, but has always been known as Aunt Ag.  We were taught as kids, if it is an elder, you call them a respectable name, and hers became Aunt.  I pray she will be ok with the information now that I can give her more details. 

Thank you to everyone who is praying for my father and my family.  Please keep it up.  G-d knows what is supposed to happen, and I firmly believe that he has some good plans for my parents.

As for my trip, I am still going.  I will check in at least once a day with my mother by phone, especially as we get closer to the procedure...I will not be home when he has it.  I am so grateful for modern communication! :) 


  1. Glad to hear that your Dad will be getting the concentrated radiation, definitely sounds like the best option.

    Wishing you & your family peace and tranquility through this difficult time.

  2. The words poor out of your mouth so smoothly,did you know that,you sound very smart. Again ,I'm sorry you have to go through this with your dad,its so hard ,hanging around hospitals but it sure sounds like he has the best care,looking up!

  3. Thanks for the update. Please keep us posted.

  4. Thank you Carolyn:)

    Judy: thank you :) Might come from the fact that I used to be an licensed nursing assistant, so I get some of this that I read, and what I don't understand, I search out so I do. :)

    Will do Rob:)

  5. I think all of what you shared is basically good news. And, yes, your dad's positive outlook will aid in his recovery about 150%!

    I'm so glad you are still going on your mini-vacation-getaway. Your brothers will be right there to support your parents and you'll be stronger and revitalized to do what has to be done when you come back home.

    Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers. Hugs to you.