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March 2006
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May 2006

Surgery Friday

My mother is scheduled to go in for some arthroscopic surgery on Friday.  They will make a small incision through her back and then presumably poke around with a camera of some kind to see what's going on.  She's had trouble breathing and although they pumped a lot of fluid out of her lungs last week, she was having trouble getting a full breath.  So they will try to drain a little more, move things around, patch things up. 

She's nervous about the surgery.  Who wouldn't be?   Heck, I'm nervous about it and I'll be safe in my office while this is going on.  Ok everyone: get your thoughts and prayers in the right place.  Positive vibes for my mom on Friday please!   

Ovarian Cancer Breakthrough?


Ok, I am skeptical of any reports about "breakthroughs" in treatment of ovarian cancer, but there is a report from the New England Journal of Medicine about  intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy delivered through the abdomen as a better form of treatment than traditional intravenous (IV) approaches.  The benefit is a longer median survival time by an average of 16 months.  So while this is not a cure by any means, it can significantly extend the lives of ovarian cancer patients.

Fluid Drained

I spoke to my father this morning and the catscans didn't find any problems or spread of tumors.  They drained 1.9 litres of fluid from her lungs, which is pretty impressive.  That should make a huge difference in her breathing capacity.

They're doing some x-rays this morning to see if there's any other fluid build up, but assuming theres no surprises, they'll check out of the hospital and head back home later today.  Yay!

Easter Monday

I spoke to my mom on Easter Sunday and wished her congratulations for outliving the doctor's predictions.  They'd given her until Easter and here she is, alive and doing well.  She told me she'd had better days and she had trouble breathing recently.

I called again on Easter Monday after the marathon and my father had decided to take my mother into the hospital and see if they could drain some fluid from her lungs.  The doctor wanted to do a catscan of her lungs to check in case there were any blood clots which would be an urgent situation.  I was able to speak to my mother on Monday evening at the hospital and she sounded good.  She tired quickly and I could hear some nervousness in her voice.   I told her about the marathon results and that I had thought of her during the tough parts of the course.  I knew that what my mom was dealing with was much more difficult than running a marathon.  So if she could fight her battle, I could certainly do mine.

My father also said that the chemotherapy wasn't fully working.  My mother's CA-125 score was back up over 1,000.  The doctor suggested that perhaps they should change her chemotherapy once again to the original treatment that my mother was getting five years ago.  But the challenge with ovarian cancer is that at some point, the body just doesn't respond any more to chemo.

Boston Bound


My wife and I got up ridiculously early this morning to catch a flight from San Francisco to Boston for the Boston Marathon on Monday.  Easter Sunday we'll be having brunch with my wife's family.  Her brother Brad is also running Boston.  There's also a short 2.8 mile "freedom run" on Sunday morning. This will be my first Boston Marathon and it will be Brad's third.

Although I'm not aiming for a fast time (it's unlikely I will win) a marathon is always a tough event.  It takes a lot of physical endurance and mental concentration.  On my hands I usually write a few inspirational words.   This year it's my wife's name, "mom" and "proud".   I'm proud to be running the Boston Marathon and I'm proud that my mom is beating the odds against cancer. 

For those who want to follow the progress, I'm bib 7236 .  I will bring my cell phone with me and post a few photos at the start and along the course on SplashBlog.  There is also television coverage on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) starting at 11:30 am eastern and repeated at 5:00 pm.  Hopefully someone will tape this for me.

One thing that occurred to me while waiting around in Hopkinton for the race to begin is how big the Boston Marathon is.  It has approximately 22,000 people crowded into this little New England town to run into Boston.  And that's about how many women are diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer.  Maybe there would be more research and funding if people thought of it that way.

The race was tough in parts, but I beat my goal time and was able to speak to my mom that evening and let her know I was thinking of her.

Diet and Ovarian Cancer


Can diet help fight ovarian cancer?  Two new studies suggest a possible link.  Findings from a University of Michigan study indicate that ginger can cause ovarian cancer cells to die.  Usually ovarian cancer patients develop a recurrant form of the disease that stops responding to chemotherapy.   

A second study from Harvard was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) suggesting that increased dietary flavinoids, such as those found in tea, red wine, soy beans, walnuts and various vegetables, could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. 

Palm Sunday


Today is Palm Sunday.  My wife and I went with my parents to their church.  I don't usually go to mass, but it was nice, if a bit solemn.  When things were at their worst, my mother's doctor had said she was unlikely to live past Easter.  Yet, here we are, just a week away.  (It sounds morbid, but we should have bet on this; my mother likes to win.)

Even though I'm not religious, maybe this is miracle of sorts.  We don't know really know why my mother's health has improved.  Her CA-125 levels are still high and when she gets her chemotherapy she's really just seeing a blood specialist, but not getting a lot of information about the tumors.   She's got some pain in her side, which could be some shingles she had when she was in the hospital in January.  But all things considered, it's not getting her down. 

I took the photo above after mass.  I showed it to my mother and she said that it would have been better if she was smiling.  And that's true because most of the time she is smiling. 

The New Normal?

My wife and I are visiting my parents for the weekend.  It was a quick flight out Friday afternoon and we'll be leaving early on Monday morning.  But it's good to visit even if its a quick one.

My mother is doing better.  She's gained a couple of pounds and has much more energy than before.  She's up walking around, cooking occasionally, eating lightly, but still eating.   Unfortunately, she's still nauseous occasionally.  She had some tea at breakfast and then later threw up.  I don't think it's related to the chemotherapy, since this was an off week.  That's worrying.

Otherwise, life is settling into a "new normal."  My father went golfing early Saturday morning, my mother went for lunch with a friend.  She was a bit tired in the afternoon.  My parents and my wife all ended up falling asleep in the last afternoon for a nap.  My father was watching the Masters golf tournament, and the game was delayed due to rain and he eventually succmebed to sleep.  He denies that he fell asleep, but his snoring gave him away.  After everyone woke up, we watched the tournament until the sun set and then we had baked pasta my mother made earlier in the week.  It was a nice dinner.

No one really knows how long things will continue.  I think my father is feeling some stress about this.  But it was enough to have a nice day with both my parents.   I hope there will be more. 

Back To Florida

Honestly, I've felt guilty that I haven't been out to visit my parents in over a month.  My sister was there for quite a long time, and my brothers Mike and Tim also visited in March.  So I don't think my parents have been lonely.  My work has been pretty hectic with a lot of travel lately and more coming up.  But I decided I need to get out there again. 

So my wife and I were able to use frequent flyer miles to get out for a long weekend at the end of this week, before Easter.  That will mean six coast to coast flights in 2 weeks, but there doesn't seem to be any other way to make it work.  I'm in Boston on business this week and then I'm going back  Easter weekend to run the Boston marathon on April 17. 

Thank God for frequent flyer miles.