Happy New Year! 2019 is finally over and we are excited to jump headfirst into 2020. Here's a brief recap (as brief as I can be, I just realized a lot has happened!) of the past few weeks since we last updated the blog – the time has flown by!
Just a few weeks after Chris' surgery, I had a minor surgery, as well, to remove polyps in my uterus. It was a simple, quick, and successful procedure, and aside from some rest after anesthesia, we were both back on our feet post-op in early November.
Chris started to have some uneasiness on his feet around this time, and after speaking with his oncologist about it, we met with an endocrinologist, who put him on a daily dose of hydrocortisone and levothryroxine, as his adrenal and thyroid glands weren't working properly. He's been feeling much better since starting on the new medications. We'll meet with the endocrinologist again later this month to see whether he'll need to continue with these meds long-term or if there is another plan for maintenance.
He also had some joint issues in his ankle mid-November, which may have been a reaction to the immunotherapy, as he had x-rays and blood work taken that didn't show any other probable causes. After a few days of crutches and Advil, the swelling and pain went down and he was otherwise feeling healthy.
He was back to work just before Thanksgiving, and was able to enjoy the last few weeks of the year with the kids before the holiday break.
Routine MRI and PET scans were scheduled for late December and both images showed no new tumor growth in his body or brain – YAY! They are still (again) seeing what looks to be radiation necrosis in his cerebellum. The doctors were not surprised to see this, as it is common for patients who have received a combination of radiation and immunotherapy, and recommended that he pause immunotherapy treatments so they could attempt to treat this with steroids. Immunotherapy is an inflammatory agent, and steroids a reducer, so they tend not to give him both, as they essentially counteract each other.
We were able to enjoy the holidays with both our families in Buffalo and Syracuse, catching up with family and friends we haven't seen much of this year! So grateful for all the time we had in both cities and for everyone we caught up with :)
We'll be heading back in on Monday for another MRI to see what progress has been made in the few weeks since his last scans and plan for an infusion of steroids in the coming weeks, all in an attempt to avoid another surgery. They'll plan to put him back on immunotherapy after they feel like the necrosis has reduced, aiming for a full 2 years of treatment, based on the data from clinical trials.
Lastly, while I'm not a big believer in resolutions, things only get done if they're on my calendar, so I'm adding a calendar event for myself monthly to make sure I jump on here to send more frequent updates.
2019 was a tough year for us, as it was for so many people close to us. Illness, loss, and difficulties of all kinds in life. In fact, in the 12 months since Chris was diagnosed, we've had family members diagnosed and continuing their battles with multiple forms of cancer, including thyroid, breast, pancreatic, melanoma, and thymic carcinoma. We hope that 2020 brings continued PMA and healing to all of you. Feeling so grateful to have you here. 💪#FazStrong