The Suburb Woman
First Three Rounds Go To God, Mike's Medical Team & You
Posted on January 15th, 2014

We were so excited by the diagnosis, we rushed to Houston Hobby airport only to arrive five hours before our flight’s departure time … So, with the extra time we have, here is a quick update of the past couple of days.

It was truly the peace that continues to pass understanding that carries us through. Tension was high the closer we came to our trip. Much like before the diagnosis, there is bliss in ignorance. It’s nice to think all is well. But, unlike before, the fight with cancer is always with us.

The flight to Houston was direct and easy. We checked into the hotel and started “Date Night” at our favorite restaurant in the area.  The weather is pleasant in Houston this time of the year for us Okies.  Close to 70 during the day and 45 in the evening. We skipped the cabs and walked the mile one way between our hotel and MD Anderson.

The MRI machines run 24-7 at the medical center. Mike completed his lab work and waited until 8 p.m. to start the scans. Honestly, it’s hard not to catch your breath when you arrive here. I immediately remember the pain and fear of those two weeks. I will never get used to seeing children who are waging their own wars sitting silently with parents. But this time we both felt a lot of hope too.  

When Mike went back for his scan I retreated to a quiet waiting area in the hall.  I know we’re suppose to “ask and receive,” but what I wanted most was to feel God’s presence and know everything is in His plan. I'm trying hard not to prescribe the outcome I think is best because I know God is capable of so much more than I can imagine. I prayed for Mike to feel peace during the lengthy scan and for our kids, friends and family at home. I felt calm waiting on him. This is a first for me. My mantra of "I trust you Jesus" was not scattered with tears and questions. I believe He is working His will.  I felt Him draw me close just like my earthly father.

Mike's scan finished about 9:45 p.m.  We walked hand-in-hand along the quiet streets back to our room.  We didn’t talk much about what our reactions would be to the results. We talked about the blessings that have resulted from his shocking diagnosis (for a later post). We told each other, “I love you” … a lot.

First appoint today was with the neurological psychologists who conducted cognitive testing for about three hours.  Mike completed this battery of interviews and tests four days before surgery, three weeks after surgery, and now three weeks after the completion of his six weeks of radiation/chemotherapy.  He has definitely improved in many areas and is considered “high functioning” in most of the analytical areas that is necessary to his occupation.

The original appointment with Dr. Mark Gilbert was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and then, thankfully, moved up to 1:30 p.m.  Long story short … the doctor prepared us in late October for the fact that many of the MRIs immediately following radiation/chemotherapy don’t “look good,” but it doesn’t mean they’re “bad.”  This was a good description of Mike's scan.

Dr. Gilbert says radiation combined with Temodar/Temolozide creates a “pseudo progression” appearance in the first scans. The difference is, unlike the scan of the tumor where it appeared to glow – meaning it did not have definitive edges – the pseudo progression, although enhanced in the scan, has definitive edges.  He explained how years ago they would do surgery only to find what they thought were possible tumors on scans was merely inflammation or newly formed scar tissue.

Several physicians, including Dr. Gilbert, who specialize only in brain tumors reviewed the scans and  determined what appears on Mike's brain scan is pseudo progression. They do not believe there is any tumor growth or reoccurrence at this time. This is good news because it is also the first indicator we've had that Mike is responding well to treatment as well as continuing to heal from surgery (which takes up to a year). 

This scan also now provides a baseline for monitoring Mike going forward by comparing the pre-surgery, post surgery and post treatment MRIs.  The particular area they marked in the tumor bed area  is 9.5mm in circumference and appears to be an area where the edge of the tumor bed is “cratering on itself” as it heals.

Dr. Gilbert confirmed this is good news.  The scans will be sent back to Dr. Brian Geister at INTEGRIS. Mike will start his first round of chemotherapy on Jan. 20, 2014.  This starts the 5 days on/23 days off cycle of Temodar (chemotherapy) for the next 12 months for certain.  He will take 300mg a day for five days in January and, if all goes well, the amount will be increased to 400mg in February. There is a chance if Mike does well the chemotherapy treatment will continue for another 12 months to increase his life expectancy beyond the statistical data for grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme (GMB).

Mike will have scans every 56 days (to be exact) over the next 24 months.  To stay ahead of this beast of a disease you have to have an aggressive offense.  We continue to be grateful for the experts we have on our team fighting alongside us.  It's encouraging to hear them remind us after they've reviewed the scientific facts that "faith and a positive mindset plays a major role in fighting cancer."  

And what is uplifting on a daily basis is all the ways we receive encouragement, prayers and well wishes from a community of amazing family and friends. 

We’re very happy! We haven’t stopped smiling!  It’s a new lesson for both of us to not just focus and plan months and years ahead, but to stop and wrap ourselves in the joy of the moment. We are soaking in the joy this day.  It doesn’t make the fight easier, but knowing the first three rounds of this heavyweight battle goes to God, Mike, his medical team and you - yes, YOU - is marvelous!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” - Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

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