Hedder’s Update

Greetings from Santa Monica. Today is Wednesday. Heather was admitted last Friday for round 5 (7 admits) and will hopefully be discharged tomorrow. It has been a rough admit. She will be getting more of my blood today. I am kind of bummed cause for as much as she has gotten from me, she still doesn’t like Dr. Pepper! Go figure. Anyway, here is the run down of the plan…
Her last scans again showed shrinkage, no new growth, and nothing in her head…Duh! While this is fantastic news and the chemo regiment has been working very well, we do need to change things up. Because of the intense chemo and bio chemo she has been on, her body just can’t handle any more of the toxicity. So what she will do is a small maintenance regiment 1x/month until August. These will be 3-5 day admits of IL2 and Interferon. In August, she will then begin a clinical trial. So while it is a little frustrating to stop something that is working so well, we also understand that it must be done. We have tremendous faith in the plan her doctors have for her, and we just need to take this step by step. The once a month short admits will allow her to go home to Idaho and return here just about 1 weekend a month. She is stoked on that. It will also allow her to finish up some teaching, visit with friends, and just be at home with her kitties. She will stay here at mom’s until this new regiment starts as we have to see how she / her body handles it.
Well, that is about all for now. Beck has been amazing in taking care of her. She is quite a trooper.
Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes. Keep ’em coming.
Melissa

Some good news this week

Sorry for the lag in updates…. (that’s all I have to say about that).

I had my second round of restaging scans this past Monday.  We were blessed to receive more good news this time.  The scans showed no new growth and even additional reduction in the tumors!  This is fantastic news.  We’ve been celebrating all week.  The plan now is for me to be admitted for Round 5 tomorrow and this will be THE LAST TIME.  I’m quite excited about the idea of not having to do this anymore, for sure.  It’s getting harder and harder to recover from the treatments.  After Round 4 it was 21 days before I was able to tolerate food and even had to be hospitalized for another 5 days.  I’ll be glad to be done with this stuff.

The plan moving forward is to start a maintainence plan.  This will entail being in the hospital for only one weekend each month and receiving minimal doses of some of the drugs I’m getting now.  My doctor says it’s extremely tolerable and many people are able to go to work M-F and handle the treatment.  This means that potentially I’ll be able to head back to Idaho in the near future.  Speaking of Idaho… check out the picture below.  My Idaho family came to visit a few weeks back and brought me a little piece of home: a snowmobile and some snow!!!

I’ll try to remind either Mom or Mel to update from the hospital….

snow in the cooler

Missing Nana Already

Nana passed away last Friday morning.  I found out when at 5:30am Mom and Dad came into my hospital room (where my sister’s and I were) and Mom whispered, “Nana is with Poppy”.  I instantly knew what she meant.   Personally, I think after all of the awful trades the Angels have made in the offseason, Nana didn’t want to anything do with baseball this year.

 

nana-img_1333-nana

Round 4 delayed

Doing much better than last posting.  Feeling really good over the last 4-5 days.   The only issue is the continued neuropathy which makes writing and typing difficult.  I’m cautious not to increase the nerve medicine because of the potential impact on my liver.  My neuropathy is minimal…I sat in the doctor’s office last Thursday and met some other melanoma patients while in the waiting room.  We had a good deal of time to talk with each other.  I became instantly grateful.  I realized that while I have experienced some discomfort  throughout this process, these folks were suffering.  I’m not trying to minimize what I have been through, but just as an example the lady I spoke with was on the same nerve medication I’m on.  They’ve had to continually increase her dosage so that now she’s taking 8x the dosage I am.  The man I was speaking with was probably about my age and in so much physical pain he could hardly sit in a chair.  These are the people I pray for. 

 And my dear friend Wally.  Wally and his wife Linda have become fast friends of my family.  They also have most of their follow up appointments on Monday morning like I do.  Wally is having difficulty with the circulation in his legs, yet when I walked in the room he stood to offer me HIS chair.  I quickly declined, yet I was in total awe at the character of this man.  Please pray for Wally.

As for Round 4 being delayed, I was scheduled to be readmitted last Friday.  My platelet counts were too low and my doc decided to wait until tomorrow to admit me.  This time Rebecca will be filling in for Mom at the hospital for the first 3-4 days.  She wanted desperately to be involved in the process so we figured now would be a good time.  Additionally, it gives Mom a chance to stay home and finish out the work week.  Dad again will be the schlepper as he drives us all back and forth from Santa Monica.

Other than that, I’m recovering from wounds I received from a fall yesterday.  I was running in the street chasing a big dog that snuck into the backyard and stole one of my mom’s shoes.  It’s a great story and well worth the wounds and bruises.  I’ll be sure to share it with whoever calls. 

Have a great week and I’ll ask Melissa to do at least one update from the hospital.

Really struggling

It’s been really difficult to find the umph to update here.  Round 3 has been just as difficult as round 2 was.  I’m dealing with some depression issues on top of terrible nausea.  Beyond of all this, Nana has been placed back in hospice care and I really haven’t been able to visit her at all, either because of her health or mine.  I miss my kitties and I miss Idaho and I’m tired of being in a good mood all the time.  My family has been amazingly wonderful and I feel guilty when I’m in a bad mood considering all they’re doing.

Nothing Short of Miraculous

This is the letter I sent to my cohort this evening!

 

Hi Everybody!

I wanted to say Hello to everyone and pass along and update.

 I’ve completed two “rounds” of the treatment we decided on once I arrived in L.A.  Each round consists of being hospitalized for 5 days.  Both rounds have come with their own set of issues, including going up to 14 days without food because of the intense toxicity of the treatment.  I’ve lost 45 pounds (no complaints from me there). 

Here’s the most important part… Yesterday I was re-scanned, both a PET scan and a CT scan.  The results were nothing short of miraculous!  ALL of the tumors have shrunk in size and my liver (which was almost in failure when I arrived here 6 weeks ago) is now considered “slightly” elevated.  Just to give you an idea of the importance of the liver details: when I got to L.A. my liver function “score” was over 600.  During the 1st hospitalization it rose to over 900.  Now my score is 254 with 243 being the high end of the normal range.  I’m ecstatic!  My doctor even hugged me after giving me the news!

 

I am so grateful for everyone’s prayers, emails, and phone calls.  Feeling the support of my Idaho family has been vital for me.  I can’t wait to get back there!  For now, I go back in for round 3 on Friday.  We’re going to complete 2 more rounds for sure to try to either eliminate or make the remaining tumors metabolically inactive. 

 

Keep plugging away… I know you guys are in the toughest part of the program and your time is so precious right now.  Don’t forget to enjoy yourselves once in a while!

Love you all!

Heather

Update From St. Johns

Hello All, It’s Melissa. As you can imaging we have been pretty busy so we apologize for the delayed update. Heather was admitted for Chemo Round 2 on Friday Jan 9th. The admit went pretty much the same as the first… it was rough! We opted to stay at the local Best Western instead of going home after discharge on Tuesday the 13th, as we needed to be back in the Onc Doc’s office in Santa Monica at 8am on Wed. So, Heather, Mom, Dad and I camped out at the Western. Mom and I actually had a complete meal (well as complete as you can get at IHOP) that night cause dad stayed with Heather in the room. Since that Wed Heather had been staying back at moms. Now recovery after the first round was a very long and hard process, and unfortunately round two was worse on her. Which brings us to today. Today is Monday January 19 and she is currently eating a popsicle which is the second thing she has eaten in 11 days… yes 11 days. (The first thing was also a popsicle about 2 hours ago). Due to that and continuous vomiting, the doc called us in this morning and admitted her strait from the office. The goal for this admit is hydration, nutrition, and vitamin replenishing. No chemo, that doesn’t start again until January 30th. So I am camping out with her here at St. Johns. Doc just put her on a clear liquid diet… DUH! While that was obvious, however him writing it in the chart means we don’t get any more trays, which means… I don’t get any food! I know, I know, but why not feed me?!? The cafeteria food (what actually fits in to my restrictive diet) isn’t great by any means, and it’s expensive. So the Doc just bursts my bubble. Oh well. So Heather is savoring her popsicles, Gatoraide, Jello, and Ginger Ale. Me… I’ll manage. We aren’t sure how long we are staying, possibly 4 days per our awesome nurse Kate. If so, my mom will swap with me on friday as I have to be in my surgeons office on friday afternoon (I had a lumpectomy on Thursday). My mom is filling in for me at my dad’s follow-up appointment tomorrow with his Onc. Doc. See, I told you we’ve been busy. Heather is in good spirits especially since this admit is geared toward just feeling better, and in her words “cause i can have popsicles!” We will update again when we are able. Now I am going to try and convincer her to help me with my homework before the Ativan kicks in. Oh well, too late.
Please keep sending the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.
Love, Melissa