At University Hospital Feb. 2011

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time-out from chemo . . .

Some of you will be anxious to know the results of Phil's CT scan on Friday, March 9, 2012. Unlike his last three scans, this time there are changes, namely:

1. Segments of the existing tumor in the transverse colon appear to be more confluent (running together).

2. What appears to be narrowing of the descending colon in two places could be two new tumors, or normal movements of the bowel (peristalsis).

3. Liver tumors are unchanged.

4. There is some increase in the size of lymph nodes near the liver.

Dr. Weis is concerned about Phil's consistent weight loss, which could be caused by cancer spreading or by the side effects of chemo. Since research indicates that a brief "time-out" from chemo will not negatively impact chemo's effectiveness in the long run, Dr. Weis took Phil off chemo for one month. Now Phil's job is to try and gain weight--not an easy task since, according to Phil, "Everything tastes like cardboard." Hopefully, further out from chemo food will begin to taste like food again.

Also, since cancer cells eventually adapt to chemo and become resistant (similar to viruses adapting to antibiotics), Phil will have a colonoscopy to biopsy the tumor in his colon. Biopsy samples will be cultured for genetic markers to determine whether Phil's tumors will respond to other chemo regimens--so we'll have a back-up plan. This time-out is the perfect opportunity, since Phil has to be off Avastin for 3-4 weeks before being biopsied. (Avastin significantly increases the risk of fatal bleeding.)

Hopefully after one month there will no longer be a shortage of Leukovorin. Leukovorin and several other cancer drugs are going generic, which means huge cost savings for consumers (if the drugs can be found), but little incentive for drug companies to produce them. Phil received Leukovorin at his last infusion on February 28, but right now, both Moab Regional Hospital and Huntsman Cancer Institute are out of this drug.

If you're friends with Phil on Facebook you know that he always has a plan of ATTACK!!! and this is no exception. Phil is still the eternal optimist--a true man of faith--and he's still determined to "beat this!" We know that we have your faith and prayers and best wishes. We want you to know that we feel your support, and that means more than we can express.

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