August 6, 2006

Can you believe that it has been 2 months since my last update. What a two months! With Diana’s treatments & moving into our new house – I don’t know how we made it but we did somehow.

Diana started on her new regimen using Gemzar chemotherapy in June after our meeting with Dr. Blumenschein. She got her first Gemzar infusion on June 14 and her second on June 21. Normally – she would have a one week break and then Gemzar for 2 consecutive Wednesdays. But we had an extra week off because of the July 4 holiday – So Diana had her next 2 infusions on July 12 and July 19.

We took advantage of the lull around July 4 and moved into our new house on July 1. We had not emptied 90% of the goods we shipped from Dallas so we had very little packing for the move. To make matters worse – our new house was not completely finished when we moved in. So as we were trying to give Diana time to rest – we would be interrupted with some worker. Complete chaos. The hardwood floor which was in the majority of the house – entry, dining room, kitchen and family room was finished on Saturday night. The movers brought the goods we were moving from the rental house on Saturday morning. Most of the boxes went into the garage. The only furniture we had moved was the kitchen table and chairs and the bed and dressers in our bedroom. Most of Diana’s Mom’s stuff was moved and set up. We slept in the new house Saturday night. We had a TV in our bedroom and Mom had one in hers. The cable connection was made live Saturday morning, so we had telephones, internet and cable TV. Good job Ed.

We moved the dishes, pots and pans, pantry items and clothes that we had unpacked in the rental house ourselves. Every time I went to the new house – a few times each day, I would load up the SUV. I would then unpack at our new house while supervising the painters, tile and hardwood floor workers. For the first two weeks after we moved into the new house, Mom and I were unpacking boxes and more boxes. Stacking the pictures, nick knacks, etc in the empty dining room. The interior designers were scheduled to come back to our house with the furniture and set up the house on July 14. That was two days after Diana received her chemo treatment so we modified their plan. Normally, they would like us out of the house for the day while they set up the furniture and decorate the house. But with Diana recovering from her treatment only a day earlier – we shut the door to Diana’s bedroom and Diana stayed in there. The designers brought a crew of seven people to our house that day. After they finished the family room, kitchen and dining room – we blindfolded Diana and moved her to her Mom’s room while the design crew attacked the Master Bedroom and Bath. Finally at 7:00 PM, after arriving at 9:00 AM, they were done. Diana was escorted – not blindfolded this time into the decorated house. This included putting up all of our pictures, hanging the drapes, etc. Diana was really pleased by the finished product. I was ecstatic because none of what was done could be blamed on me. The pictures were not hung crooked, nor were they in the wrong location. The house really looked beautiful. It would’ve taken us weeks or even months to get the house looking like this.

I don’t know why or how we selected to use the designers this time. But with Diana getting treatments, me just taking care of her et all – the house never would have been completed without them. Now here we were, July 14 and everything was installed and decorated including a new wall mounted TV and Bose surround sound stereo system. Wow. I just wanted to crash. Seeing the smile on Diana’s face was fantastic. She was so pleased. She had worked hard with the designer in picking colors, types of fabric, etc and to finally see it completed made – her glee with the final product.

It was back to reality on July 19 as we went for Diana’s next Gemzar chemo treatment. Just as Diana would recover from the prior treatment, it was time for the next one. We spent the next 2 weeks in our new house enjoying it. I hooked up our outdoor grill and cooked chicken one night. Quite a treat. We were starting to feel at home best we could. The two weeks flew by and it was time for more tests.

Diana was in lots of pain when we last met with Blumenschein on August 2. She has had a terrible time with the side affects of the new chemo – Gemzar. She had nausea for about 6 days after receiving each dose. That meant she had one day to recover before the next dose. Plus, the chemo has made her very weak and tire easily. It has been a tough 2 months for Diana. Diana was also in much pain during these past 2 months. Put all of the above together and i don’t know how we survived.

Anyway – the past 2 months is now history thank goodness. Most of the house is now complete. Diana’s mom and I have unpacked the majority of the boxes. Of course there are lots of little things to do or fix or add. At least the house is now livable. We have our furniture, TV’s and refrigerators for food.

This past week Diana had her series of blood tests, x-rays and CT Scan. We made several trips to MD-Anderson and finally on Wednesday, we met with Dr. Blumenschein to get the results. Now back to Dr. B’s report.

Good news. Upon review of the CT Scan – there was no new cancer growth detected anywhere. And in some areas there were some small amount of shrinkage of cancer cells. As a result. Dr. B is keeping Diana on the same Gemzar chemo regimen. Dr. B is changing the medicine she is taking daily – he is trying to lessen the pain and nausea. Diana now has a set cycle of pills to be taken every day. She has three new prescriptions – two of them are taken 2X per day and the other is 4X per day. Add in her Crestor which she takes daily for her cholesterol. Then she has 2 as needed prescriptions – one for pain and one for nausea. We both take a vitamin in the AM. Help. I need a computer program to keep track and remind us as to what pill is next and when.

Dr. B is attributing Diana’s pain to stress. He insists that from what he can see the cancer is not causing the pain in her back and neck. He is hoping that with less stress Diana will start to feel better. We talked about reducing the chemo dosage – but decided to keep it at the same level for the at least the next 2 doses. We will see Dr. B again on August 23 to review how Diana is responding to Gemzar with the new medicines.

Anyway – after our meeting with Dr. B on Wed afternoon – Diana had her Gemzar infusion on Wednesday evening. The first of a six week series after which she will have another CT Scan to see how the Gemzar is doing. She was not as sick the past couple of days. Today, she left the house with me for the first time (except for trips to MD-Anderson) since June and we went to a store and had a Subway sandwich out. It really tired her out, but she felt good about finally getting outside.

It appears as if the new medicine is helping. We will see how Diana’s body responds to her next Gemzar this coming Wednesday. I am worried about how weak the Gemzar is making Diana. It maybe controlling the cancer cells from growing and spreading, but it appears to be causing much fatigue to Diana. I just hope it is not too hard on her body.

In the meantime – thanks for your support and prayers.


August 23, 2006

Well, a couple of weeks has past and lots of stuff to update and report on.

At our Aug 2 appointment with Dr. Blumenschein, Dr. B decided to proceed with Gemzar as a chemo treatment and give Diana 4 additional doses. Diana already had 4 treatments. However, he also set an appointment with him for Diana after two doses rather to wait until she had all four as he would normally do, to check on her status at that time. Normally, he would not see her until after the 4 doses but he was concerned about her physical condition. So Diana took her IV doses of Gemzar on Aug 2 and Aug 9.

We were invited to a wedding on September 2 in Vermont for the youngest son of our friends from Cape Cod. Diana and the son had a close bonding as he grew up. They had quite a rivalry on the golf course when he a young teenager would try to beat her. This was a very special occasion for us and one that we had really looked forward to attending. We had tentatively planned a short trip to Montreal and Quebec City after the wedding in Upstate Vermont. Based upon Diana’s health and schedule at MD Anderson we formally cancelled the trip in early August. It was a sad day. It is difficult trying to live your life with cancer, but when it affects your outside events it hurst even more. For me to notify the parents of the son being married that we would not be able to attend and cancel our room reservation depressed both of us that day. However, since Diana had a chemo treatment scheduled for August 30, there is no way she could make the trip. Diana was quite sick following the last two infusions of Gemzar earlier in August. She was very tired and only had limited activity during this time period until her next appointment with Dr. B on Aug 23.

She was scheduled to have the next two chemo treatments on Aug 23 & 30. On Aug 23, we met with Dr. B before her scheduled chemo treatment. Upon seeing her condition on Aug 23 – he cancelled the Gemzar chemo treatment scheduled for that day. Diana was very weak and in much pain. Dr. B said she was dehydrated and had a low red cell blood count. He was very concerned about her physical condition.

Instead of her scheduled chemo treatment, Diana got 3 hours of saline via an IV infusion and a red blood cell booster shot. Dr B cancelled her scheduled Aug 30 chemo treatment and scheduled a new CT scan for Sept 1. He scheduled an appointment with the Pain Management Center at MD Anderson for Sept 5 and the next appointment with DR B was for Sept 6.

However, Diana’s pain in her lower back and right thigh are still ever present. So Dr. B is scheduling a MRI in the next day or so to see if there is any need to use radiation on either of those areas. There was also a small out of norm reading on one of her kidney blood test results – so he is to schedule an appointment with a kidney specialist for Diana.

Otherwise – no chemo treatments for 2 months. Assuming the MRI and kidney meetings do not show any problems – our next appointment with Dr B will in November! That news made Diana feel much better. We came home this afternoon – Diana is mentally stressed and exhausted – she went straight to bed. Hopefully in the next few days, the new pain regimen will kick in and she will regain her strength.

All else is well here. In the meantime – thanks for your support and prayers.