Chemo Treatment 5
Today started early. We left the house at 5:30am. Sipping a coffee as we drove I wondered about the last year and about what lies ahead. Today I restart chemo. My last treatment was 84 days ago (WOW – almost 3 months ago). I arrived at U of M Health System at 7am. I certainly have enjoyed this break from chemo. And I know that these remaining treatments offer the possibility that I might achieve a full remission. And so here we are, hoping and praying for the best.
The blood draw and port hook-up was completed by 7:30am. The sights, sounds, and smells were all too familiar. Next stop is the infusion area.
We had to wait a little while before being called into the infusion room. I guess they had to wait for blood test results before going forward with the treatment. I’m now hooked up and hope to complete the treatment around 2pm today.
I’m hoping that the Erbitux is more tolerable than the first treatment. But if the rash does reappear – well, I suppose that’s a small price to pay for the possibility of a full remission.
Colon Cancer 5k Walk/Run
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 5k Walk/Run on 6/1. I was surprised and proud that so many of my friends and family joined me in this effort. I am very lucky to have you all with me in this war. Please know that each one of you are special to me and having you ALL join together in this event warmed my heart and soul more than I am capable of expressing. You are in my heart!
Special thanks to Sarah and Matt for coming all the way from Boston to join us. I appreciate the weekend we had together and I’m looking forward to our next visit!
Big THANK YOU to Colette and Alexis — you did an awesome job organizing the 5k Walk/Run. And I am very grateful for your hard work on this!
Another aspect of this walk that I’m very proud of is that we helped our community raise money for a very important cause. Raising awareness is a critical component in the war against colon cancer. The fact is that this cancer is preventable in many cases! Having a colonoscopy can reduce the risk of a late-stage colorectal cancer by over 70%. So please, if you are 50 (or over) get a colonoscopy soon!
I pray that all of my friends and family are blessed both here on this good earth and in heaven.
God is good!
WOW — ONE POINT ONE
I am elated to give a wonderful update today. Praise be to God!!!
Connie and I went to Ann Arbor for three different doctor appointments yesterday. We met with the surgeon who performed the liver resection, a genetics specialist, and my oncologist.
The surgeon was very pleased that healing is progressing very well. He recommended continued rest when tired, moderate exercise, and to see my oncologist for subsequent treatment as soon as possible. I asked him if meeting my oncologist in a few hours was acceptable and he smiled with approval.
The genetics specialist reviewed my case to see if there might be a genetic explanation for having two cancers before the age of 50. While I tested negative for the most common genetic explanation for cancer susceptibility the oncologist ordered a long-shot follow-up test for another known condition. She also explained that there may be unknown genetic causes that they simply have not yet learned about and assurred me that there was an army of researchers hard at work, looking for new insights into cancer causes. I agreed to participate in research and I pray that this team will find causes that lead to cures!!!
The Oncologist had the best news of all. My CEA level tested as 1.1. This is the very lowest level since starting tests over a year ago. More importantly, the green strip on the bottom of the graphic below represents the normal range for CEA levels. As you can see this is the FIRST TIME my CEA level has fallen within the normal range! Yah!!!
And more good news
I was prepared for the oncologist to start the remaining chemo treatments immediately; however, I was pleasantly surprised that the good doctor said it was fine to extend my break from chemo a few more weeks. Therefore I will not start chemo until Thursday June 6. That means I will remain chemo free (and free from the side-effects) through Memorial Day weekend and through the June 1st Colon Cancer Awareness 5K Run/Walk!
For more information on the race you can follow this link:
May God continue to bless and keep you all as we begin this warmer season!
Your brother in Christ,
As last reported there were two larger tumors confirmed on both the initial and follow-up MRI. However, there was uncertainty regarding shadows seen on the initial MRI, not seen on the follow-up MRI. It was possible that these shadows were smaller tumors that shrunk and therefore were not visible on the follow-up MRI. An ultrasound is a more reliable way to see tumors/lesions and therefore, as part of the surgery, an ultrasound was first done to verify the location of the two known tumors AND to see if there were in fact smaller tumors present.
The surgery turned out to be the best case scenario we could hope for! The two larger tumors were the only lesions found (per the ultrasound) and they were both surgically removed with clear margins. Praise the Lord; His Mercy never fails!
The next step in my cancer fight is to recover from the surgery; and so far I’ve been on a fast-track recovery plan just as the doctor anticipated. My part in the recovery is to rest, eat quality foods, and do moderate exercise (walking and breathing exercises). And I’ve been trying to do them faithfully.
If everything continues as it has been going I expect to be back to work Monday May 6 (with minimal restriction). The doctor’s assistants have discussed that I will need to; 1) avoid lifting anything over 5lbs, pushing or pulling heavy things, or stressing the abdomen area in general, and 2) listening to the body and resting as needed (don’t overdo it).
This first week of recovery has also included managing pain medication. I have two pain medications; over-the counter Tylenol and a stronger prescription medication. The goal is to use the pain medications to moderate pain but to wean off of them as the healing allows. Trying to wean off of them too quick will result in increased pain levels and a slower rate of healing. I need to be off of the prescription in order to drive and therefore my focus has been on using less of this drug as time passes.
Today I have gone without the prescription medication since 2am and I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve found that I tended to need this stronger medication during the night. Sleeping involves tossing and turning and getting in/out of bed and these activities tended to stress the abdomen area moreso than sitting or walking. So getting through a night with minimal reliance on the prescription drug is definitely progress.
This is the Day that the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be Glad In It!
I hope that I am beyond the need for the full doses and I’m looking forward to being a little more alert and mobile. This morning I took advantage of the warm and sunny weather (and the availability of a professional dog walker). We went on a little nature walk and it was very refreshing indeed. And given the near-term weather forecast; I’m hoping to do a little more walking over the week-end.
I’m scheduled to visit both the surgeon and oncologist on May 16. They will assess the healing and determine if I am ready to begin chemo treatments. As soon as I’m deemed ready I’ll begin a series of eight more chemo treatments over several months (to kill remaining cancer cells). While I’m not looking forward to once-again dealing with the side-effects of chemo at least this time I know these treatments are effective AND there is a strong hope that this cancer will be put into a full remission, especially with all the prayer support from you!!!
Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart… For your Prayers.. Encouraging cards and messages… Visiting and calling… And generous acts and kindness…
I am truly a very lucky person to be surrounded by so many loving and beutiful family and friends.
Love and Light to you!
As last reported a few short weeks ago; the Folfiri and Erbitux treatment was extremely effective at reversing tumor activity. The latest CEA test came in at 3.7 (that’s the lowest since testing started). The follow-up MRI (done on Mar 21) was a much better image than the Jan 15 picture and showed that the two larger tumors in the liver had shrunk considerably. Shadows on the earlier MRI (thought to be several smaller tumors) were not visible at the follow-up MRI.
Given these results the Tumor Board recommended 1) removing the two larger tumors as soon as possible and 2) doing an ultrasound on the liver to see if there were/are smaller tumors present (e.g. exploratory surgery).
As soon as possible was determined to April 19 at 9am (tomorrow) and therefore I had to wait several weeks as my body recovered from the effects of the Folfiri and Erbitux chemo treatments. Ah chucks. No chemo? Time to enjoy life!
The last few weeks (sorry for the side bar)
Sarah came for a visit from Boston, We went to a Kid Rock Concert in Saginaw, a Detroit Tiger’s Baseball Game at Comerica Park, The Bob Seger Concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Bat Boy The Musical at Wayne State Bonstelle Theatre (Tony’s Play), and a few family dinners at various places in between. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about this nice run we had!
Seriously, I am truly blessed to have had this time with my loved ones. It was truly a gift from above! Thank you Jesus for these fun-filled days with my family and friends!
Oh yah, surgery tomorrow at 9am!
Well, the possible outcomes from the surgery are summarized below:
- Best Case Scenario: The ultrasound only shows the two tumors in the liver and these two tumors are removed with clear margin
- Possible Scenario: The ultrasound shows additional tumors; however, the two larger tumors are surgically removed and the smaller tumors are either surgically removed or destroyed using ablation (e.g. ablation is a process by which the abnormal cells are killed without removing them surgically).
- Worst Case Scenario: The ultrasound shows many smaller tumors scattered throughout the liver. In this scenario the surgery would likely be aborted as removal of the larger tumors would not provide benefit.
5K Walk/Run (scheduled for June 1, 2013)
As mentioned some time ago my friends Colette and Darrick are organizing a group to walk or run in the first annual “Colon Cancer Awareness 5K Run/Walk” in Battle Creek Michigan. I am committed to walk in this event. This will be a milestone in my post-surgery recovery! I would love for as many of you to join Collette, Darrick, and myself in this fund raising opportunity. I think we have about 15 signed up so far.
The event is on Saturday June 1st (9am check in time). And today is the last day for the $25 registration (goes up to $30 tomorrow). Access the link below for more information and for the online registration form.
So much to be thankful for!
Thank you friends and family — For staying up to date on my battle with Cancer; for your prayers as we walk through this valley; for your encouraging words of support; and for your Love! You truly help me keep a positive and hopeful outlook! I do pray that God will shower blessings on each of you!
I went in for follow-up scans last Thursday. I was expecting to receive the results of these scans in a couple more days, along with receiving Chemo Treatment Five. The doctor called this morning and gave me this update.
“The results are better than we had hoped.”
The two larger tumors (seen on the previous MRI) have showed significant reduction. And more importantly, the smaller tumors seen on the previous MRI are not present in this MRI. As you may recall the previous MRI was not a high-quality image and what was thought to be smaller tumors were “inconclusive.” The quality of this MRI was substantially better than the last one and the doctors now believe the smaller shadows on the previous scan may not have been tumors. The fact is that they are not showing up on this scan at all.
Change of plans
The NEW plan is to prepare for surgery sooner than later. I will be off chemo four weeks in order to allow my body to recover and prepare for the surgery. Surgery will likely be scheduled towards the middle/end of April. The Tumor Board will review my case on Thursday 3/28 as they must approve this change-of-plans before it is official. However, my doctor said he is 98% sure this will be the new course. I will send out another update on Thursday evening after we hear the results of the Tumor Board review.
Meanwhile, please join me in a prayer of Thanksgiving.
Thank you for your healing Grace. Your mercy and Love overwhelms me.
And thank you for the many medical staff that help me (and many others) fight this Cancer. Grant to them many Blessings and Love this Easter season.
And Thank you Lord for so many people praying for me and supporting me. Let your Love and Light shine down upon them all during this Easter season.
And help those who have not known you Lord; help me share with them your Love and Grace. Open their hearts as they explore new beginnings.
May the risen Lord be our partner today and every day; filling our lives with Love and Joy!
My CEA is down again (from 9 down to 7.6). This is a hopeful sign that these treatments are working as designed.
I’m scheduled for the MRI and CT follow-up Scans for next Thursday, 3/21. The hope is that these scans will show the cancer on the decline, positioning me for a future surgery.
The other good news is that the Erbitux Rash has continued to decline. I did not experience much (if any) resurgence with the last treatment. And therefore today I am receiving more Erbitux along with the Fulfiri chemo.
I want to write more of an update but I’m struggling with being very tired right now and the words are simply not complete at this time. I’ll include an additional update in a day or two and will conclude this update with the following invitation.
The Colon and Rectal Center in Battle Creek Michigan are sponsoring a 5K Walk/Race. I’d like to invite you all to join me in this activity. Maybe we can plan lunch together afterwards..
The event is on Saturday June 1st at 9am.
Please let me now if you are interested in joining me in this race/walk.
Thank you Colette and Darrick for suggesting this activity; I’m already looking forward to a beautiful day on 6/1. More information and sign-up can be found on the following link.
Love and Light to you!
So, in addition to a short medical update I will also share a few other thoughts.
My Aunt Sonia passed away last week and her funeral was yesterday. She was 85 years young and she lived a very beautiful life. And she has left an amazing legacy in the hearts of her husband of 52 years, her six children, her many grandchildren and great grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, and countless friends!
I have very fond memories of Aunt Sonia. My father would take us to Paw Paw MI nearly every summer to visit with his sister (my Aunt) on the farm. I grew up in the City (Detroit) and going to visit Aunt Sonia and Uncle Bob was always an exciting time that my siblings and I looked forward to.
Aunt Sonia had a way of making us ALL feel special. When we would arrive she would meet us at the car and she would give each of us a big bear hug and kiss, barely waiting for us to exit the old VW bus. The love in her heart was so genuine. And lucky for us she cultivated that love into the hearts of her children (my dear cousins).
Another fond memory that I have of Aunt Sonia was how she always made the most delicious food! And there was always plenty to go around. My Uncle Bob and Aunt Sonia had a large family (six children). Add our family (seven children) and another cousin or two – only then can you start appreciate the effort that went into the cooking. She was literally cooking for a small army! And somehow Aunt Sonia alawys made it look easy and effortless.
I Love you Uncle Bob. I love you cousins. You are all in my Prayers.
Go Red Wings! I think my Aunt Sonia was more a fan than I am (and those of you who know me well can imagine that she must have loved the Wings).
Learning about my family
I learned a lot about my family lineage yesterday. I now have a copy of the Scamihorn genealogy dating back to the mid 1800’s. I’m hoping to update this family tree information and share it with my relatives in such a way that we can all contribute to the story over time.
It was fulfilling to learn about my ancestors. I now know that Samuel Scamihorn begot Jacob Scamihorn begot George Watson Scamihorn begot George Henry Scamihorn begot Philip Joseph Scamihorn (me). My connection to this lineage was severed because my Grandfather abandoned my father (and his family) when he was very young. We simply didn’t have the privilege to hear Grandpa’s stories. And now, at the young age of 49 I’m learning things I simply didn’t know. And it feels good to do!
As last reported (in SPITE of the Erbitux rash) I managed to attend the Marshall Red Hawks’ basketball tournaments the last couple of weeks. And I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to attend. The boys are all growing in leaps and bounds (literally). I’m especially happy to see Bryce doing so well. The team has improved, leading to increased confidence, leading to even better game, leading to more confidence, etc…
YouVersion — My favorite App (by far)
If you are interested in a handy way of reading a book full of Life lessons I STRONGLY recommend trying out the YouVersion bible! This is a free app that you can install on your smart phone and/or iPad. My wife introduced me to this app and it has quickly become my favorite.
I enjoy following the daily reading “plans.” These plans vary from 3 days up to 300 days. A plan is essentially a guided tour through the scriptures. Examples of the plans include Parenting by Design, The Christmas Story, Relationships, Love and Marriage. My favorite part of a plan is the devotional writings. The devotionals appear to be written by theologians and they tend to add context and interpretation to the bible verses. I also love that you can easily switch between different bible translations and sometimes find myself comparing and contrasting between them.
For me reading the plans are like reading a good book that you simply can’t put down. Oh, yah that’s probably because it is the Good Book!
So far I have completed 23 different plans and I’m in the middle of four more that will soon be completed.
Let me know if you are using this App. And check it out if you’re not.
Excellent News – CEA is down! This is a good indicator that this Erbitux/Folfiri is working! My doctor looked over the rash (which is substantially less than it was) and decided a 50% dose of Erbitux was in order for today. I suspect that there might be a resurrgence; however, I’m also hopeful that it won’t be as bad as it was. Today’s infusion is nearly done. We’re hoping to be on our way home around 3pm.
Thank you all for your continued prayers! And for all your support.
Please keep my Uncle Bob and Aunt Sonia’s family and friends in your prayers.
May God Bless and keep you forever!
Your brother in Christ,