At University Hospital Feb. 2011

At University Hospital Feb. 2011
February 11, 2011 at University of Utah Hospital

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finally . . . good news!

Here's what has happened since my last post:

May 23: We were anxious for Phil to have his sixth chemo treatment so he could get a PET scan and we would know if the tumors were shrinking, staying the same, or growing unchecked. But Phil's absolute neutrophil count (ANC) was way down, so chemo and the PET scan would have to wait. His body needed time to rebuild from the damage caused because chemo kills good and bad cells alike.

With Phil's immunities dangerously low, he fell prey to a series of troubling infections which became a major challenge.

May 19: Phil came home from work feeling ill. That evening he spiked a fever that resulted in a trip to the ER. After a series of inconclusive tests, Phil was treated with a broad-spectrum oral antibiotic and he responded well.

May 23: Phil developed a number of cold sores on his lower lip and chin which a provider at the clinic described as "typical of AIDS patients." Suppressed immunities result in every infection being worse than average. This time Phil's virus was treated with a topical ointment.

May 27: Phil complained of pain in his elbow, which had become red, hot, and swollen. Another trip to the ER resulted in 7 IV antibiotic treatments every 12 hours over the next 4 days. We were so grateful to Becky in the ER, and Liz and Mark who came for the weekend--they really kept Phil laughing and I'm sure their visits were as healing as the drugs, if not more so. Special thanks to our awesome sons-in-law, Brian Kirby and Brandon Weilenmann, for taking charge of the kids while their wives cheered their Dad and me. What great children we have!

May 30: Blood work showed Phil's immunities had improved significantly. But his oncologist wisely decided Phil needed more time to recover from so many infections.

June 7: With Phil's ANC nearly normal, he finally received his sixth treatment at Moab Regional Hospital. That was a rough chemo week, but the second week was better and we were able to enjoy our Cook Family Reunion on Father's Day weekend. This was a celebration for my dad's 90th birthday and my mom's 84th birthday--Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad!

And Happy Birthday, Phil, this Friday, July 1!

At the reunion, Phil enjoyed a great nap on our super-plush, queen-sized air mattress with all our tent windows rolled open. Later we had a great dinner and program, but when the sun went down, it got downright chilly! One of Phil's chemo drugs makes him extremely sensitive to cold, especially his mucous membranes which swell and make it difficult for him to breathe. So around 10:30 we abandoned our tent and went home to sleep, but we were back bright and early so Phil could mix up pancakes for everyone, which my brother Terry flipped on the griddle! Being the oldest of eight, and the "designated reunion planner," I stressed big-time because between Phil's treatments and my job, I didn't have the time nor focus to do it right, but everything went off without a hitch. We had a great weekend and Phil even felt good enough to help clean up.


June 13 (Lucky 13): With six treatments behind us, Phil finally got a PET scan and the results showed: "No other new lesions are identified." . . . "The previously seen enhancing mass lesion involving the transverse colon has significantly decreased in size.” Bottom line--all 9 tumors have shown a “favorable response to treatment." SO REALLY GOOD NEWS!

Because cancer cells eventually adapt to chemo drugs and stop responding, one of the drugs (oxaliplatin) was withdrawn for now. This drug packs an initial punch, so dropping it early makes it possible to trick the cancer cells and bring it back later for another powerful punch (we hope). This is the drug that causes irreversible, peripheral nerve damage (numbness and tingling in extremities), and has made Phil's feet feel like “wooden blocks.” Also, since the drug will take some time to clear his system, the full extent of damage is not yet known.

June 21: Phil received his seventh chemo infusion, which was shortened by 1.5 hours without the oxaliplatin drip, and he has experienced less nausea. However, the fatigue factor seems to be ramping up with each new treatment. But Phil never complains--no matter what the side effects, he just smiles and says, “It goes with the territory!” He leaves for work at 2:00 a.m., no matter how sick or how tired he feels. Phil says work takes his mind off cancer, so I’m trying to quit encouraging him to “take it easy.” :~)

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we're thankful for our faith in God and the Plan of Salvation which makes it possible for families to be together forever. Life does not end when we leave this earth. Families sealed together in His holy temples, who live up to the covenants made therein, will be together forever. This we know! These truths are a great comfort to us. We are His children and He loves us, every one. We are not alone in our trials. His Spirit comforts and guides us if we prayerfully place our trust in Him.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

1 comment:

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