Thursday, January 24, 2013

MRI and Chemo update

Whitney here.

Well we just passed another one of those big days in our new dad had his second MRI post-radiation....and we received a positive report!!

**insert gigantic sighs of relief, deep feelings of gratitude, and cheers of happiness**

I tagged along on this doctor appointment because all we (the kids) ever hear is second-hand information from my parents, which is great, but I wanted to be able to witness it firsthand so I could know what they were talking about. I always pepper my parents with questions when they get home from a doctor visit and although I'm sure they do their best at remembering the details, I never feel like I get enough...what I really want is for them to tell me each conversation they had with the doctor verbatim....surely that's not too much to ask right? ;) Plus, all of us daughters are little mother hen's to my dad so naturally I had to assume lead Mother Hen role as the only daughter who lives close enough :) At any rate, I figured the best way to get all the information I wanted was to tag along. But honestly, I have wanted to go to these doctor appointments because this is my dads new life, and I want to be able to know and support his new reality.

Just as his last MRI in November, this one was reported to be "as good as it could get", meaning the brights spots they are looking for- the ones that could potentially be cancer cells- were either gone or smaller. HOORAY! Our PA said, "I'm not just blowing sunshine when I say the scan was as good as we could hope for which is excellent!" It was so great to hear this positiveness from the doctors themselves. (*Side note: I have been asked this question a lot..."So is the cancer gone?"....No. When the doctors use the term "clean scan" or say that it looks "as good as we could hope for" that means that there is no new cell growth, which is ultimately exactly what we want to hear. Because of the nature of my dad's cancer, he will never be cancer free; it will always be there and it doesn't go into remission. The entire goal and focus of the radiation and the chemo is to stop the cancer cells from growing.) So the doctor went on to say that the radiation and chemo were doing it's job and that for all we know my dad could also be receiving the added benefits of the vaccine (which is a double blind study) but we are all choosing to believe he is getting the real thing! The doctor then raved about my dad's perfect surprise there :) 

Going to these doctor appointments with my dad has been an interesting experience. There are a lot of mixed emotions. I always feel sad as I walk through the halls because I know that all of the people I see are there for one reason only: cancer. They all have their own story. They are all experiencing their own kind of heartache. They have all had their life turned upside down. But then I feel that there must be some sense of camaraderie, a sense of togetherness because they are all fighting the same thing. I know I feel it.

I have really enjoyed being able to meet all of the wonderful people that are taking care of my dad. Depending on his appointment, my dad meets with one of the 3 main nuero-oncologists. Dr. A. was wearing a sweater vest that was a belly shirt when I first met him. I thought it was endearingly adorable and we (my parents and brother and I) had a laugh about it after but what I really loved was that he took the time to answer my questions, even if they had been asked and even if they were dumb.

I was disappointed when I met Dr. B because my parents talked about how he always wears a doo-rag which I just thought was awesome (and which I found out is common for surgeons). Unfortunately, he wasn't wearing a doo-rag when I met him, but he was wearing a bow-tie which is the next best thing :) Dr. B. is the doctor in charge of my dad's clinical trial so he sometimes gives my dad the vaccinations. Out of all of the doctors that have given my dad the vaccinations, it hurts the worst when Dr. B. administers it. So prior to our meeting, I asked my dad if he wanted me to punch Dr. B. in the face for making the vaccination hurt (Mother Hen coming out), but as soon as Dr. B. walked in the door, I knew I could never do it (not that I really would, mind you) because Dr. B. was so peppy, so full of energy and so happy. The vaccination was still really painful for my dad but as Dr. B. was apologizing for the pain, he explained why it hurt and why he made it a point to get the needle in the right spot. I found myself hoping he would always give my dad the vaccinations since it sounded like it was an art form he knew all about. And we want these vaccinations to count!

I met Dr. C. at this last MRI appt. I liked him immediately because for some reason I think he looks just like my little brother, Alex, and what's not to love about Alex?? As I have now met all of my dad's doctors and nurses, I am just so thankful for them. So thankful for their time and care for my dad. So thankful for their listening ears and their happy demeanors. So thankful that they have the knowledge and ability to help my dad fight this cancer.

Anyways, this got a little long, but those are just some of my observations. Bottom line: my dad is doing really great.  He just started another round of chemo and we are kicking cancer's booty every night with our cheer. He is an amazing man and an amazing, nonchalant, no-big-deal-about-it fighter. We love his stinkin guts.


The Bentley's said...

Love it whit. Oxox and love your stinking guts. Love always..... Linda

Brent Nielson said...


Thank you for the update. We pray for Dean all the time. He is the miracle man.


Robin Isham said...

WooHoo my Bro is kickin Cancer's BUTT!!! That's my bro :). Keep it up Dean your the only Bro I've got...pretty precious!

Love Ya