Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Today is Chemo treatment #6.  In cancer-speak, that's 3 cycles of chemotherapy.

Brett's attitude is fantastic, as always.  We saw the nurse that did his first chemo (Judy).  She stops to see him each time.  She commented how great he looks and how sick he was at his first treatment.  It helps to hear it from someone because I honestly don't think Brett remembers how sick he used to be.

After treatment, Brett has a few rough days.  Nothing super bad - but loss of appetite and queasiness, and super-fatigued.  Followed by a an upswing of energy and voracious appetite!

The bad news is... he caught a cold.  Normally, nothing to worry about, but it can turn to a bacterial infection pretty easily.  We'll have to be really careful.  Back to wearing masks (he's been a little lax on that).  And even more sanitizer! (We've been excellent at that!).

Overall - things look good.  After the next treatment, he'll get another pulmonary function test and we think in a month, he'll get another PET scan - which makes me equally excited, yet nervous because I don't want them finding anything new.  In the Lymphoma Club - a Facebook group I'm a part of - they call it "Scanxiety" - accurate term!

Here are some fun pictures of today:
Chemo Selfie
The awful "playing dead" pictures he likes to pose for.
Comfy watching TV - although he immediately fell asleep.

You might notice Brett is in a bed this time.  I get the recliner!  No reason for the bed... but I think he's way more comfortable, actually.  (These recliners aren't that great, to be honest.)

I posted a great thing on Facebook that outlines the symptoms of Lymphoma (both for Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's).  Brett had all of these symptoms, except for #9 (since he's never had alcohol. LOL).

The GOOD NEWS:  All of these disease symptoms have gone away.  He does experience loss of appetite and fatigue from chemo treatments, however.  It's hard to explain - but they are different than the Hodgkin's symptoms.

NOTE:  Alcohol Pain refers to pain following alcohol consumption.  It can be chest pain, back pain, etc. after drinking and is often a sign of Lymphoma.

Some have mentioned that these symptoms are really like any other infection or virus - like mono.  They really are... but if I had to pick a couple to really watch for, it's the drenching sweats (usually at night), and the large lymph node(s) that don't go away.

And guess what?!  September is Lymphoma Awareness Month!  So I'll be sporting my violet ribbons on my Facebook page. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Chemo #5 & Scan Results!!

Eric took off of work so we could go to Brett's appointments together.  (Scott is up North with Grandma Debbie this week.)

We started out at the Lab, of course where everything went smoothly - and then we were off to Grace Clinic to see the nurse practitioner (we should tell you all that her name is Julie).

She checked things over and then brought up our results.  Dr. Fenske was busy (but saw us in the chemo center later on!).

When Julie brought up the current scan - it looks amazing, but then when she brought up the scan from June 2nd, it took our breath away.

Click on this to see the full picture.

When we saw the scan (again) from June 2nd - we realized we never saw a comparison before.  It seriously made us look twice.  You'll also see that his bones are more prominent because his bone marrow must have been working hard - he was very anemic.

SO - what are you looking at?
The big blob in the middle is his heart, the 2 spots up in his throat is his vocal cords (they said he was probably talking)... and the branchy-looking things in his abdomen are his kidneys.  In the cropped part below (cropped for obvious reasons) - you could see his bladder.

The current scan does show some cloudy parts in his chest, and armpit - and a brighter spot by his neck and one above his heart.  Those are likely still malignancies - but look at the PET from before!  My goodness!!!  We can't quit looking at it over and over again.  You can also see Brett's weight gain between the two, also. :)

He's not even halfway through treatment!  So this is extraordinary news.  It makes chemo and all of its side effects worth it.  

Brett over there just curing his cancer!

During Chemo - Complications
Brett had some chest tightening and has had a slight cough (different than the cough from lymphoma he had early on).  This is likely caused by the Bleomycin and often this chemo drug is dropped and not done for the whole course of treatment.  This will likely happen soon since lung toxicity is very dangerous and some effects are irreversable.  

Dr. Fenske spent some time talking to us and going over a few things.  He is really happy with the PET scan and the weight gain. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

PET and CT scans

This is a big day - but we won't know how big until next Wednesday.  Brett is getting PET and CT scans done to determine if chemotherapy is working for him.  We know it is, but how much?  And is there anything new to be concerned about?  He had his first PET on June 2nd - the day after he came back from Texas.  So this would be a direct comparison to that one.

From the Mayo Clinic website:
"A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that helps reveal how your tissues and organs are functioning. A PET scan uses a radioactive drug (tracer) to show this activity. 
The tracer may be injected, swallowed or inhaled, depending on which organ or tissue is being studied by the PET scan. The tracer collects in areas of your body that have higher levels of chemical activity, which often correspond to areas of disease. On a PET scan, these areas show up as bright spots."
It was also State Fair judging Day #2.  We checked Brett into his test.  It takes about an hour to get the infusion of the dye/contract and then the tests themselves.  We went to check in our food items and we would come back to pick up Brett.

When we came back - we were met with 2 nurses... named Susan and Debbie!!  Brett was fully dressed and done with his tests - but he had a slight reaction (hives) to the contract this time.  We had to go up to Radiology and see a physician.  They gave him a shot of prescription-strength Benadryl.

He was checked over by the doctor and he said that all is okay.  It's noted on his chart of this new allergy - but that it is a slight reaction.  He will have to take prednisone and benadryl 13 hours (why 13 hours?) before his future scans.  Whew!

The good news is that he actually have enough immune system to produce hives!  They were pretty excited about that.

We went back for judging at the Fair and all went out to dinner later that night.  Busy day - but overall, it was good!