Dr. Wisbeck’s Consultation meeting
Nurse: “Andrew, have you ever been exposed to toxins growing up?”
Grace: “Well, he grew up in New Jersey, and we lived in Los Angeles.
Nurse: “I meant for example my cousin used to chase the fertilizer sprayers and now he has all sorts of cancer”
Dr. Barnett’s Consultation meeting
Dr. Barnett: “You’ll probably need a gastric feeding tube to keep your calories up. Its not like you’re a tub of la—I mean, its not like you weigh 350 pounds and you can afford to not eat for a couple of months.”
The kitchen table
Andrew: “AJ, it’s a train with people on it. Do you see all the people?
AJ: “Yea, da poopoo, da poopoo! “
The kitchen table
Grace: “AJ, please pick up you food off the floor and put it in the trash..No-No! don't eat it! “
Grace: “Oh no! AJ’s peeing on Gracie!”
The past week has been a busy one as we have been trying to decide where to have radiation treatment, and whether or not to do chemotherapy at the same time. For those who have not been up to date on my situation, the post-surgical analysis of my tumor showed that the tumor invaded the deep muscle tissue of the tongue as well as a single lymph node. This would make it a T4, N1, M0 tumor, which is categorized as a stage 4a cancer. According to my doctors people with stage 4 disease are at a higher risk for recurrence even with negative surgical margins. With this information my doctors are recommending radiation therapy as the primary way of treating any additional cancer on the molecular level that may be in my body. They are also recommending Chemotherapy as it is often used in more advanced cancer cases such as mine since it enhances the radiation’s ability to kill cells that divide. Grace and I decided that we'll do whatever treatment it takes to increase my chances of survival now, even if the short and long term side effects are worse.
The decision to do radiation and chemotherapy became pretty clear when Dr. Takamiya showed me an article from the New England Journal of Medicine that shows significant improvement in the survival rates of patients who use a combined chemoradiotherapy treatment over patients who use radiation therapy alone. For post-surgical treatment of stage 3 and stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck the overall survival rates increase from 40% to 53% with a combined chemoradiotherapy. I was advised to take these statistics with a grain of salt since my cancer case may be less severe than many of the cases in the trial and that most of the patients were between 50-70 years old. The downside to combined chemoradiotherapy is a significant increase in short term discomfort and side effects. Only 49% of the patients in the study were able to complete the chemotherapy treatment. So pray that I will be able to complete it.
1) It was such a blessing to see Erik today. He is capable of walking with a walker and able to eat a little. His voice sounds pretty good too! He’s a walking talking bubble of encouragement and answered prayer. God really is not bound by chances and statistics. Erik survived childhood Leukemia and a couple relapses, and he survived this infection and coma and he’s recovering faster than his doctors expected! Oh, how the Lord is faithful to those He chooses.
2) Praise the Lord for providing 5 opinions from radiation oncologists that all basically agree.
3) Praise the Lord for providing all those appointments in a short time frame so I can stay on track to begin treatment in a week or two.
4) Praise the Lord for making it clear that I should do chemotherapy.
5) Praise the Lord for lots of moments of laughter this week that got our minds off the tough decisions.
6) Praise the Lord for helping our family get over a nasty cold bug. I had the fewest symptoms out of everybody and they went away in a day or two. Praise the Lord for allowing me to stay healthy to make it to all my doctor’s appointments this week.
7) Praise the Lord for allowing me to start working again last Friday, and that my bosses and co-workers are so flexible and understanding. One person said this, “You make sure you have the time to make the right medical decisions. If you can’t finish the work its okay. Nothings more important than you getting healthy again.”
1) That we will make the right final decision on radiation oncologists. Its between Dr. Little and Dr. Wisbeck at the Flynn Cancer Center in Everett.
2) That we would be able to choose the right oncologist to do my chemotherapy treatment.
3) That the insurance will cover my radiation and chemotherapy. Right now my insurance company says that they will cover certain doctors, but not others in the same clinic. In fact, the Medical Oncologist clinic says they cancelled the contract with my insurance company when my insurance company says they're still contracted! There seems to be a mix up with the contracts between my treatment centers and my insurance company.
4) Pray that Erik will be encouraged and that his kidneys will work completely so he can get off dialysis.