Monday, November 23, 2009

Chemo Rounds 19 & 20

Well, there’s not much to tell since the last update. I guess no news is good news in this case. I started the 19th round of chemo on October 12. So far, the chemo does not seem to be too harsh. I am having some aches and pains but I don’t really think they are side effects of the new chemo. More than likely I am just dealing with the side effects of 18 months of chemo.

I have been having some trouble keeping my blood counts up. The dose that I should have received on October 19 was delayed until Thursday, October 22 to allow my white count to recover. By delaying that week, my infusion was moved to Thursday the next week as well. When I went in on October 29, my white count was borderline. My doctor decided to go ahead with the chemo and supplement my blood count with Neupogen for a few days. On Sunday, November 1, I came down with a low grade fever, indicating that my white count had dropped to zero and infection had set in. I have been on antibiotics since, which have kept my fever under control. Since my counts were so low, I did not begin chemo again until Monday, November 16.

During my 2 ½ weeks off from chemo aside from having neutropenic fever, I also had been having severe back pain. The pain started low and would radiate up to the base of my skull. Every breath that I took would be accompanied by a throbbing, intense pain. I was beginning to get worried because the pain was very reminiscent of my hip and nerve related pain when I was first diagnosed. Dr. D’Amato, my local oncologist, decided to schedule an MRI of the spine and brain for as soon as possible. On Friday, November 13 I underwent a three hour long MRI of the entire spine and brain. I was not prepared for such a long test which was not only long, but uncomfortable, and almost unbearable. They told me during the MRI that it should have been scheduled for several different days instead of one long test on one day. I could certainly see why they normally schedule it that way, however after it was all over with and I made it through the whole test I was just glad to have it done with. We left our house at about 12:30 that day and did not return home until 7 pm that evening.

On Monday, November 16 my white blood cell count was extremely high at 24. This was because of the Neupogen injections Marissa had been giving me for the seven days prior. We discussed with Dr. D’Amato keeping my counts high before the chemo infusion, so when they fall they do not fall so low that I would continue to get neutropenic fever. So before every infusion on Monday, Marissa will begin my Neupogen shots the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before. I am having tremendous amounts of muscle pain and fatigue and I can only think that the Neupogen is contributing to these symptoms. During this doctor’s appointment, we also received the results from my MRI. Fortunately, everything looks good and it showed only a little arthritis in my lower spine. To try and help alleviate these symptoms, we are trying Celebrex. I was happy to add this to my daily regimen of medicines as it is a COX II Inhibitor, this basically means that it helps to block a cancer cell pathway. My list of medicines is getting longer and longer, we are trying to add other drugs that also have a double benefit like the Celebrex and Lovastatin. My only real complaint is that it is hard to manage all of these medicines, some must be taken alone, some with food, some on an empty stomach, so fitting them all into one day is proving to be challenging and I must become more diligent about it. I will also say that Marissa and I have been extremely pleased lately with my local oncologist. She is very receptive to new possible beneficial drugs that I suggest, and she helps to start me on these therapies.

At this point in the post, I (Marissa) will be taking over. Bradley has given this task over to me. He said he no longer enjoys posting as it is a constant reminder that he is sick. He said he also feels that people are no longer reading. He said people’s support for him is like when people watch a marathon, they want to be there for the beginning and the end but not the entire race in between. Unfortunately, I do not know what to say about this, as I agree with his thinking. Regardless, I will be doing the posting from here on out if not for us, than for those that do read that are also fighting their own cancer battles. They, all too well know about the in between days that carry on from one to the next. I know it is helpful to us that they know how we feel, so maybe it will help them in their own day to day struggles.

On Saturday, November 21 my whole family came over and everyone helped with our huge leaf situation. It took all day, but our house and yard look great. Everyone was a huge help, even the nephews. Bradley felt well enough to enjoy being outside and take our nephews for rides on the riding mower. I think Bradley had a really great time and it was great for him to be outside on a beautiful day.

Today is Monday, November 23 and it is Bradley’s second dose out of this round of chemo. He will have one more infusion next Monday and then we head to New York for scans. Bradley’s scans are scheduled for Wednesday, December 2. Please remember Bradley in your prayers. This is a scary time for us with not knowing the effectiveness of the new chemo. Bradley has also been doing chemo for a year and a half straight. Dr. D’Amato told us children can usually tolerate 2 years of chemo, adults less. I think the chemo is beginning to take its toll on Bradley’s body and his physical and emotional strength, understandably so. The trial in NY still does not have a start date as far as we know. So a major question we will be asking in NY is if it is time to pursue other treatments, perhaps radiation. If we had never been told about this trial, Bradley would have done total abdominal radiation. However, the trial is supposed to essentially take the place of the total abdominal radiation. However, he has been waiting 10 months since his surgery for this trial, and we still do not know if we are any closer to it starting. I do not want Bradley to have any more side effects brought on by total abdominal radiation, but at the same time radiation works best when there is minimal to no disease. Since I do not know how much longer he can continue to do chemo and we have no trial start date, where does that leave us? I suppose thinking about radiation (he can still participate in the trial even with radiation) or trying the Interferon and Lovastatin treatment (since he is still doing chemo he is currently taking only the Lovastatin). Please pray for clean scans, a trial start date, and guidance for where we need to be and what we need to be doing for Bradley’s health care.

The next few weeks will be very busy for us. Of course Thanksgiving is Thursday, but on Wednesday my sister Meaghan will be delivering our niece, Ella. We are very excited at her arrival and to finally have a niece. Then of course is our trip to New York the following week. When we return my high school friend, Jenny, and her husband Steve will be coming to visit us. Bradley and I were supposed to have attended their wedding in August, but we were unable to. We were very disappointed, but we are so happy they are coming to visit us. This will be the first time they have been to see us in our Atlanta home, as we have not seen each other in 3 years. After that we will be traveling to celebrate Christmas with the family. We know it is a busy time for everyone, and I will try to post as I am able. Thank you to those who continue to read, support and pray for Bradley and myself.


  1. Bradley and Marissa, I am a complete stranger to you. I do not remember how I found your blog, but I have been following you since day 1. When it comes the time of month I think you should have posted, I faithfully check daily. I do not have any illnesses. I have just fallen in love with the two of you. I pray often for you and know that I am with you for the "in between." And by the way, others I work with follow your blog also. When one of us discovers the new post, phones start buzzing. You are such a courageous couple and you are not alone. God bless both of you.

  2. Please don't stop posting your blog. Yes we are out here praying for you and Marissa even tho we have never crossed paths. The two of you touch so many people. You will never know. God Bless You.

  3. Bradley, You have no idea how much your blog affects so many people. Please don't stop. Your courage is remarkable. I will continue to pray for you and Marissa. Loved the pics of the two of you.

  4. I really appreciate that you keep on posting for all of us....I hear at church but I do enjoy hearing first hand, too. You both have been so generous to share....And I will pray for ya'll whether you post or not. Bradley is one of us; and we love both of you. Love, Kathy Clements

  5. I also don't know you but check your blog almost everyday to see if you have updated. I think of you both often and pray for your healing and strength. Please know that I am constantly sending hopeful healing thoughts your way!

  6. Bradley & Marissa, we continue to uplift you in prayer many times throughout each day. I'm sure you get discouraged, but remember that many people are praying for your healing. You are on many prayer lists in our area, and many other parts of the country as well. God is with you, and we pray you will be strengthened and encouraged by His presence and power. We love you and wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.

    Love & Prayers,
    David & Beverly
    Tara & Wayne

  7. Hi Bradley and Marissa,

    Happy Thanksgiving! Congratulations to everyone, too, on the birth of baby Ella! Bet she is beautiful! We think of you all of the time. Please don't ever think that you have been forgotten. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. We check the blog all of the time for updates. You are both doing a great job hanging in there and taking things day by day. This is a difficult time for you, but soon we will start a new year. We know this year will be a good one for you both. God will see to that. We wish you all of the best as you travel to NY. We will be thinking of you and will keep you both in our hearts and prayers. We send our love and very best wishes to everyone.

    Love to all,

    Uncle Charlie, Aunt Joanie, Tara, Tim and Deborah

  8. Thinking of you on this day of Thanksgiving. So many times I have thought of posting on your blog but have not. I watch for updates all the time and so thankful when you have good news. You are a remarkable young man and so is your lovely wife. You have been through so much together. I know you must be discouraged at times and now is one of them for you. I also don't know you, but through your blogs, you have become a part of my life. I continue to pray for your healing. God bless you both.

  9. Bradley and Marissa, please don't think that you have been forgotten. People, including me, get complacent and busy with everyday life but please know that we think about you and pray for you every day. We keep up with you through your dad's email updates. We are told in the Bible to "be strong and courageous" and we know that you are. And we are trusting that you will prevail thru these trials. Love you both. Uncle Bob & Aunt Grace

  10. Bradley and Marissa,

    Thanks for the update! I keep updated on how things are going through your blog and Ashleigh and Maison. You both are always in our thoughts and prayers!!! I can't imagine how long and hard the past year and a half has been! I would absolutely take the no news as good news approach. :) We hope for more success with your new chemo. I don't know if Ashleigh had mentioned to you about a party we are having this weekend? We were hoping ya'll could stop by if Bradley was felling up to it. But it sounds like you might be in NY? If so, we will have to plan something after the holidays. If we don't see ya'll... we hope you have a wonderful holiday! You both deserve it! Take care!

    Shavon, John, and the girls

  11. Bradley, I just wanted to let you know that you are constantly in my prayers. I check your blog at least once a week and I'm very glad you're doing it. I truly admire your courage and strength.
    God bless you and Marissa.

    Brady Fisher

  12. Marissa and Bradley,

    I'm still reading and praying!! Please don't stop writing, it is such a valuable tool for your emotional health, and so many of us want to know how things are going for you. I am so amazed at the strong woman you have become, Marissa. Please give Bradley our love, and tell Meaghan congratulations on her new baby. My grandmother's name was Ella! Love, Howard and Terry