Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Busy Loving Summer

Except for the extreme heat, and Ted's iffy MRI results two months ago, we've done our best to enjoy the beautiful scenery in this part of the world this summer.  This photo was taken three weeks ago during a seven and a half mile hike at Lacamas Lake, Washington.

Last Sunday, our niece, Ella Masar, a professional soccer player for Houston Dash, came to Portland to play the Portland Thorns. The day was hot and the train ride home turned into a longer ordeal than planned, but it was great to see Ella play.

 I don't plan to take the night train again.  There was an hour delay, probably due to heat on the tracks, that left us sitting in downtown Portland at 11:00 p.m.  A cement wall provided front row seats to Portland after hours.  Skateboarders, homeless people, cops and self proclaimed entertainers went about their nightly routines. A woman wearing a black cocktail dress, straddling a white mini bicycle serenaded everyone within a half mile radius with off key, homespun songs that included lyrics like, "You put your hand in my sweater hole."  Lucky for us, she boarded our train and sang her heart out, posing for selfies. Other than a guy with a beer can, she was her biggest fan. Twenty minutes into the trip, she exited the train, her drunken fan in tow. Too bad for him, she hopped the mini bike and pedaled off into the night.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oncology Limbo

Every two months, a group of physicians, with a variety of expertise in oncology, gets together in our area. They examine the MRIs and CT scans of cancer patients. For the past eight years, Ted's oncologist has used his MRI as one of the "good" examples.  For those who aren't following this blog, here is an update. 
Sitting on the patio enjoying the jasmine. 6-22-14
 Shortly after we returned home after a three month stay in Arizona, Ted had a strange occurrence. He reached for a saltshaker and froze. His arm was suspended about six inches above the table and he didn't move. I immediately freaked out. I asked him what was going on and he said he couldn't decide if he wanted salt or not.  Freaking out is the byproduct of living with this incurable and aggressive form of brain cancer.   I called his oncologist. Even eight years of good MRIs, doesn't put him in the clear.  

He immediately got an MRI.   It was two months earlier than his regular six month journey into the tube and it showed something suspicious. His oncologist shared the scans with the brain trust, and they couldn't say whether it was the tumor returning or not, so they suggested he get another one in June, which he did.  The last I reported was what I got from reading the lab report, but I haven't shared what he latest brain trust has said, mostly because I've been swamped with work and there isn't a lot to tell at this point. They still don't know what the faint white spots are, so they have suggested he get another MRI in August.  His oncologist said that they are all baffled.  Their best guess at this point is that the mystery spot are vascular, but when she said she asked them what they meant by vascular they shrugged their shoulders.  

She said the best we can hope for is that whatever it is fades and goes away, but that we need to stay on top of it because these things can "blow up quickly."  I hated hearing that, but what can we do? So we wait.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Ted had an MRI today.  It was a follow up to one that he had two months ago.  We have not seen the oncologist yet, but we did get the findings in written form from the radiologist.  I think the good news is that it doesn't say that the "tiny foci of enhancement" has gotten bigger.  Glioblastomas are very aggressive, so the fact that the enhancement isn't being described as bigger seems like a good thing to me. Again, without speaking to the oncologist, which will happen on June 11, we won't know for certain.

The findings suggested, "Although no definite tumor recurrence demonstrated at this time, further follow-up in this region recommended." It goes on to say, "Further follow up recommended to exclude earliest changes of tumor recurrence."

There are a couple of sentences in the report that don't quite make sense.  I'm not sure if it's due to a lack of knowledge in "doctor speak," or if the guy has trouble writing sentences.  One sentence has us scratching our heads.  I will post it.  In case someone else can interrupt it, feel free to share.  Speaking as an English teacher, I just think it looks like it's missing a predicate.  You be the judge:

"Nonspecific tiny possible foci of enhancement about the left frontal tissue loss changes." Huh?
So, that is where we are today.  Pins and needles. More waiting, but at least it doesn't say that this thing is out of control.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Eight Year GBM Anniversary with a Hitch

It was eight years ago on Memorial Day weekend that Ted was first diagnosed.  Despite the fact we've lived with this cancer hanging over our heads, we have done our best to keep moving forward and live our lives with much joy and love. Unfortunately as this anniversary nears, Ted's last MRI had something suspicious on it.

He had a clean MRI in December, but when we got back from Arizona I noticed something strange.  He reached for our salt shaker and froze.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed his arm was extended, but he wasn't moving.  When I looked at him, he seemed to be dazed.  I asked what was wrong. He said he was trying to decide if he wanted salt or not.  Recently our dear friend, who has been GBM free for almost as long as Ted, has had a relapse. Her tumor is back.  She insisted we get him checked out, which I of course insisted too, so he had an MRI in April.

The results showed a "tiny enhancement" on the left frontal lobe.  His first tumor was on the right side.  At this moment in time, they aren't sure what it means, so he will be having another MRI on June 4 to see if there is progression. Since his first diagnosis, only once has there been something show up on his MRI that was somewhat scary, but this happened within the first year of diagnosis and it went away on its own, so all of these years we have seen only good results.

Ted of course isn't worried.  As a matter of fact. I had gotten so used to the good MRIs that for the first time, I didn't even read the results of his last one.  I am normally right on top of it, but when Ted got the last results (we always get them before his visit with the doctor) he told me all was well.  I believed him.  His doctor's appointment was during my work hours, so I couldn't be there. When he came back from the visit, he told me that he needed another MRI in two months.  I really scratched my head over that one.  Why? I asked.  He said that the doctor wanted a "fresh" MRI for her next brain consortium.  I thought this was very odd, so I asked Ted to show me the results.  I unfortunately read them on my way out the door to work.  I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut, and it took all of my strength not to turn into a messy pile of tears in front of my students. I honestly don't think he was trying to keep the news from me. I think he truly isn't worried and didn't think there was anything worth mentioning.

So now, until June 4 comes around, I live on pins and needles.  Part of me is happy to not have the full picture yet because that means the world is still spinning and I can go about my day as normally as possible.  I know that after June 4 our world could go spinning out of control, so right now there is still peace and I am enjoying that peace as much as I can.  We are about to take our daily walk and then perhaps go play disc gold.  It's just another day.