Saturday, June 20, 2009

06/06/09 - Palm Harbor Festival

Posted on 6/20 - back to the "delayed" posts (you can easily tell the delay if the "posted" date is substantially greater than the date in the entry title - for example, it's 6/20-6/6=14 days here)! Remember that on Friday, June 5th, the Tumor Board at Moffitt Cancer Center had determined that I had a Spinal Cord Tumor AND a Brain Tumor. This indicated a spread of cancer that was not good news... So, here is what Laura and I did the following evening, 6/6, which was a Saturday.

A local "historic downtown" area was having their annual Parrot Head (Jimmy Buffet's Fan Club) Festival. The "downtown" area of Palm Harbor is only about 1.5 miles from our house. We ended-up going there to forget about a couple of things...

First, we had dinner at the Thirsty Marlin restaurant. My special was awesome, and Laura's meal was good also. Big Monkey tagged along...

Big Monkey and Laura

While we were waiting for our food to come, Laura took a picture of Big Monkey demonstrating how he would dominate a hammer-head shark.

Big Monkey dominating a shark

After dinner, we walked around the festival. There were a few little art booths, and I purchased some items. There were a lot of people at the festival. I was having a hard time negotiating the crowds, so we left shortly after browsing the art.

Palm Harbor Parrot Head Festival

All in all, it was a nice evening...

Friday, June 19, 2009

06/18/09 - Brain Tumor MRIs

Posted 6/19 - quick for a change! I saw my Radiation Oncologist last night, and he pointed out my brain tumor on my MRIs. Again, there is currently a tumor in my brain as well as one in my spine. They are both being treated by radiation therapy.

MRIs of my Brain Tumor

Back to reporting more out-of-date items...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

06/02/09 - Buffalo Humps and Moon Faces

"What's up with the double-chin?" That's what my brother said when he visited a few weeks ago. He likely hadn't seen me since Christmas. When I was at Moffitt on 6/02, I just had to ask my Neuro-oncology PA about it. I had also noticed that there appeared to be more fat cells at the base of my neck when you look via MRIs.

She confirmed that it was a side effect of taking steroids (more on those in a separate post to come). Taking them would likely cause me to have a "moon" face and "buffalo hump." She confirmed that mine weren't that bad. I've been taking a daily dosage of steroids since my March hospital admittances (3). Steroids prevent inflammation, so when I was having issues in March, my chemotherapy drug dosage was reduced and my steroid dosage was increased to taking at least one per day...

Buffalo Humps. Apparently, a fatty deposit that will build up around your shoulders if you take steroids often. In the attached MRI images, you can see the fat cells as white "blobs" (a highly technical term, :) ). See, I thought something was going on there...

Buffalo Hump, note dates

Moon Face. Hmmm... I didn't notice this one until my brother told me. Comparing a picture of my face taken last August 13th, versus one taken at Moffitt on June 2nd, the difference is more apparent.

Moon Face. Again, note dates

Just another reason to hopefully get off of the steroids. Unfortunately, they do appear to do well at reducing inflammation, which has worked well for me in the past...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

06/02/09 - Intrathecal #8

Posted 6/16. So, we spent a full day at Moffitt about two weeks ago. First, I had an appointment to have my blood drawn, then an appointment to have MRIs of my brain and spinal cord (considered to be a total of four MRIs - it lasts a minimum of 2.5 hours), and finally had an appointment to meet with my Oncologist and discuss the results of the tests. The appointments and the commute to Moffitt pretty-much took-up the whole day...

By the time we finally made it upstairs Moffitt's Neuro area, my Oncologist's Physician's Assistant (PA) met with us first to administer Intrathecal Chemotherapy dose #8 of 10. She does a great job of it, and is always quick to answer our questions. Unfortunately, that day she had to break the news to me that one of the MRIs showed a tumor on my thoracic spinal cord. Instead of administering Intrathecal #8, she used my Ommaya Reservoir to draw off some Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) to examine it microscopically for signs of cancer spread (called a Cytology report).

The PA extracting some CSF

After she drew off some CSF, told me about my cancer spread, and answered some of our questions, I met with my doctor. He basically verified everything. So now I have a tumor near my T9 vertebrae in my spine. The medical experts said that the T9 vertebrae is about the level of my belly-button, but it appears to be higher on the MRI, although I won't argue with them...

MRI of my spinal tumor

Two days later I had a preliminary meeting with my Radiation Oncologist. He discussed a potential plan. The tumor is around the center of my spine, so he planned on irradiating it lik he had done with the tumor discovered in my neck region on 9/9/08.

Three days later, on Friday 6/5/09, doctors discussed my "case" at Moffitt's Tumor Board. Apparently, the doctors meet once per week and discuss the most effective ways to move forward with treatment options. They basically agreed with what my Radiation Oncologist had told me the day before.

The PA called to give me an update after Tumor Board. Oh yeah, she said that the MRI shows a brain tumor also. It is located in the third ventricle of my brain. Of course, I have looked at a copy of the MRI, but I can't pick it out, so I won't post the MRI until I'm sure of its location.

The brain tumor is in my third ventricle

So, I spent the weekend with couple of things on my mind - literally...