It's been a rough week having dad back in the hospital (MD Anderson). Steve is back to using the whiteboard to communicate, he is in a tremendous amount of pain, he has been unable to eat much of anything since April 12, and the current cocktail of medications leaves almost unconscious most of the time. So let me explain how we got to this point.......
Dad elected to start the new clinical trial at MD Anderson with the understanding the drug could have an adverse effect on vision. Often chemotherapy can cause mouth and throat sores and for whatever reason this particular chemo hit dad hard with this side-effect. There are a number of mouth washes that clean and numb the mouth/throat to counteract the "mucusitis". This helped a little, but not enough. Last Friday, April 13 was the 6th dose of this chemotherapy and the continued inflammation and ulceration as a result became too much on Sunday. After several days of being unable to speak and eat plus an unbearable pain resulted in a trip to the ER for immediate help. I want to also mention that over the span of the 6 weeks of chemo a suspicious spot showed up on dad's chin. At first it was believed to be some sort of blemish or irritation probably from the various medications and chemo. After the spot did not improve and continued to grow they performed a biopsy. Turns out this spot is a new tumor. The new chin tumor has continued to grow despite the current chemotherapy and this almost caused him to pull out from the trial. After a repeat of chest CT Scans (around week 3) it turned out that there had been almost no change in the lung tumors during this time. And in this case, no change is good! So dad continued with the trial and would get more scans after week 6. Dad has been on a constant drip of strong pain killers since Monday to gain some control of the pain and allow for some rest and healing. Today the pain is almost tolerable at steady state, but the severe ulceration in the mouth and throat hasn't allowed him to eat. The plan at this point is to control the pain, allow for him to heal, regain his strength and then return home.
Through all of this dad has been very strong and in good spirits. The Hansen grandkids have visited him everyday in the hospital a couple hours at a time. I know he enjoys this time with them even if he does not open his eyes as he gives the approving "thumbs up" sign and head nod of approval when asked questions. As always he has had a very friendly staff working with him and dad tends to joke around with them often.
Tomorrow dad will have head/neck/chest CT scans to see the current status of the lung tumors. Obviously you don't want any progression or growth in the lungs, but at the same time you question whether the level of misery right now is worth the benefit. For now we wait for the scans to be performed tomorrow and then will consult with the physician team...... please continue to send your prayers and healing thoughts. It's certainly a tough time for Superman Steve right now.
I would be seriously remiss of me not to mention two blessings during this time! First, dad has a brand NEW grandchild that was welcomed this week! My sister Monica (and Mike!) had a beautiful little girl on Monday morning. The new grandbaby is named Calla Lee McTeague and both mom and baby are at home now and doing very well. Dad has seen pictures and Skyped with Monica.... Second, Echo (the eldest sister) is traveling to Houston from Michigan as I type this with her two little girls. This was a previously planned trip and it is great timing as dad certainly can use Echo's presence.
Thank you so much for the prayers all of you so diligently pray and thank you for all the positive energy you send to Steve.