Category Archives: Fighting Cancer

They can send a man to the moon…

…but they cannot for the life of them sort this thing. That doesn’t mean we’re throwing in the towel, however. Not by a long shot.

Our visit to the oncologists on Thursday wasn’t the greatest. It appears that the cancer, despite chemotherapy, gamma knife surgery, and Opdivo treatments, has spread. It’s also invaded his liver and spinal cord. You can see on this screen shot, comparing his CT scan from last week to his first one back in May, that the evil stuff is trying its best to take over.

It’s no wonder he struggles to breathe and eat. It continues to squeeze his trachea and esophagus. But there’s a plan for that…

On Monday, he goes back to Cleveland to have a radiation treatment on his chest. It should relieve the pressure he feels when he tries to breathe, although 24/7 oxygen and breathing treatments at home are helping. He has some minor pain between his shoulder blades, and is taking several steps to alleviate it. That’s also helping.

Dr. Velcheti said that if the radiation treatment gives him some breathing relief, we can restart some chemo to attack the other places. We continue to keep hope alive, because this fight isn’t over. I confess that sometimes, in my more angry moments, I think about how unfair this all is; how it’s putting a serious dent in our plans for retirement that we’ve fantasized about for years. I still plan on renting that RV and road-tripping it to California to see Bob and Kay — a trip we’ve wanted to take for quite some time. The Thriller is all for it, and we can take as much time as we like. We can also take all his gear (oxygen, wheelchair, meds) easily as well. I want this for him. I want this for me. For us.

In the meantime, we continue to be the recipients of incredible love and encouragement and prayer. You’re a part of that circle of support, and I thank you for that.

Till next update…much love,


Left turn at Albuquerque

Yeah, we forgot to take it, and we ended up in Cleveland. The Thriller is back in the hospital for the time being. He was scheduled for two scans on Tuesday: a bone scan (they want to know why his left side has gone weak) and the standard CT to see how the cancer cells are doing.

Neither one happened. Each time they tried to lay him flat, he began to choke. I guess that comes with the territory: you can’t cough, therefore you can’t clear the emphysema junk out, therefore it lines your trachea and esophagus like a wet sleeping bag, therefore it’s hard to breathe through a straw when all the weight of everything is pressing on your chest.  As we neared home, I had to call Lars and have him come over and carry him up the five stairs into the house. He’s a good son.

It was then that I called the oncologist’s office, and they wrote a prescription for a wheelchair. If he’s not walking much anymore, I still want him to be able to enjoy going places with me. In fact, once I get him home, I fancy a nice walk in the park, since the weather’s been so nice.

Sadly, it will have to wait a bit. Yesterday morning, he was struggling so hard to breathe, I took him to the ER at our local hospital. Five hours later, he was in an ambulance on I-71.

Suffice to say that it is not easy being the Thriller nowadays, which makes his “Come on, let’s get this done!” attitude even more astonishing. I will deliver all assigned hugs you might want to give.

I’m putting in the morning at school, then leaving to drive up at noon. My colleagues (great friends) are covering for my afternoon so the district doesn’t have to pay a sub teacher (again). Mavis has everything covered on the home front with Pax and Remy. Only downside is we will miss having dinner with the Js. Thursday night is our night.

So…what’s on the menu for today, you ask? Well, the scans (full body bone and CT) are happening, except they’re getting creative with sedation; they plan to drug him up almost to the point of “putting him out.” Hoping it works, because they said they can’t use general anesthesia for the tests. Still, I fail to understand how technology can enable doctors to look at cells on a mollecular level and decide where they’re going and what to do about it, but somehow, doing a bone scan while the patient is in partial recline is a mind-blowing 33rd-century pipe dream. Makes me go like this

I guess I’d better get going. Seamus’s dog Chevy is visiting, and while we love him and he’s awesome, he’s the nut who made off with my left moccasin. I’m not sure what to do about that…or where to look.

I’ll keep you posted, fiends. Off to the shower, the school house, then up to Believeland.

Much love


One of those weeks

It’s definitely been that.

It’s been one of those weeks when it’s much easier to list all the bad things than strive to find the good.



  • I will celebrate the fact that another student has stepped up to play a lead role in our musical, since the original actor suffered a football injury that required surgery and will be out indefinitely (we have 11 rehearsals before we open).
  • I will delight in my great good fortune to have my sister and her family taking care of everything when I am at work or when I take Michael to Cleveland.
  • I will try to find the good in no improvement on Opdivo after the fourth treatment. Breathing treatments are providing the Thriller with some limited relief; I will clap for that.
  • I will spend as much time as I can giving our precious Pax hugs and kisses, since his motor and brain functions are in steady decline, and we believe the death struggle will soon begin.
  • I will celebrate my friends, who have held me up here at home, and across miles of country and ocean.
  • I will hug my colleagues for helping me through the worst, and for giving Michael their best in the way of prayer and other support. If you ever want to feel humbled, be a caregiver surrounded by beautiful, compassionate people.

And I hug YOU, dear fiends, for your constant and unwavering words of encouragement and love. Hey, RtB’s 10th birthday is coming up in February; I smell a celebration there, too — and you will all get the prezzies. ;-)



Can't wait to scissor these things off for the last timeIt was good to get yesterday out of the way. The Thriller is understandably weary (Opdivo side effect), and we discussed his getting a port in his chest for the treatments, instead of being needle-mined every two weeks. I’d post a photo of his arms, but I’m assuming most of you are reading this over morning coffee/breakfast, so… :-D

Opdivo day started rather inauspiciously, but snarly traffic at 9:30 a.m. into Cleveland followed by a 3,000-year wait in the outer rooms while seemingly dozens of people who arrived after us were summoned sort of put me in a snippity mood (that wasn’t the case, of course, but still). It wasn’t my finest hour. I made it about me instead of him. I got to read the news on my phone while he endured the endless poking and jabbing.

I had asked our clinical trial nurse if I could speak to Dr. Velcheti when I got up there, and she responded that the best thing might be to just call him, so I’d decided to do that. When we got back to the exam room, intending to see the trial nurse and physician assistant only, Kayla appeared and summoned me into the hallway. She took me to a room, and there stood Dr. V, Erin the PA, and another doctor, ready to hear my questions and take their time with me. I almost got two sentences out before I bawled like the fool that I am.

The object of my love and hate

I asked some questions that had been on my mind and the minds of Michael’s children, and got some good feedback. The Amazing Velcheti showed me some comparative scans, and told me that if the Opdivo didn’t work, there were other options to consider, which made me happy. It didn’t solve the ugly-crying issue, but I went back to the exam room with some renewed hope and resolve. Of course, the Thriller immediately said, “Why are you crying??” Oh, I dunno. Sometimes, what can’t be spoken with your mouth falls out your eyes. That, and I’m a big fat crybaby.

I hate that you have to get poison to destroy poison. I also hate that the poison they give you doesn’t always kill the poison that’s in you. Still, I’m grateful he has Opdivo as an option, and that he’s tolerating it bravely and resolutely.

As the Thriller is wont to say: Onward through the fog.

Sidebar: the stage floor was painted yesterday. Looks nice!

Much love today,



Not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but somewhere in between.

Another pothole in the Thriller’s path appeared over the weekend, and landed him back in the hospital. It seems that since he started the Opdivo, he’s coughed/choked more. Of course, this isn’t a complete surprise, as Opdivo’s side effects include worsening cough, and even worsening of the cancer for a time.

But something in the way he was coughing, combined with his weakness and complete loss of appetite, suggested there might be other chicanery at work behind the scenes. As it turned out, there was.

A CT scan revealed that part of his right lung had collapsed. The delicate, sponge-like material of the middle lobe couldn’t withstand the weight of all the secretions this disease (and emphysema) produces. We asked the ER doc what he thought, and he said he wouldn’t advise going home. He called Dr. Velcheti and reached his colleague, who said “bring him in.” So, after an interminable wait for an open bed, they transported him to the Cleveland Clinic, and that’s where he is this morning.

Last night was rough; he got very little sleep, apparently, and he’s hearing more wheezing in his lungs. We meet Dr. Stevenson (pulmonologist) at 11 this morning to discuss the path forward. I hope I can bring the Thriller home with a nebulizer and some meds and get through this thing so it doesn’t upset the Opdivo schedule. Last night before I left, we were told by the nursing staff that Opdivo treatments were on hold till they got the pneumonia issue sorted, because it could be fatal at this stage. I understand that, and I’m glad they are once again exercising caution.

So the whelmed factor is not a deal breaker. In fact, it makes us more determined to sailor through this and get on the other side so the Opdivo can happen on Wednesday.

That’s the update from the high seas today. Happy Monday, fiends! I hope all is well with you.