A Very Good Partial Response

The day, or days in this case, that every parent with a cancer kid dreads. Not knowing the results of until you’re face to face with the oncologist is one of the harder parts of this journey.

Scanxiety is the word most often used in the pediatric cancer community. Normally, I’m not all that affected by it. I understand that God’s plan often is not my own and that the results will be no matter how much anxiety and worry I poor into them. Either way, I rationalize, we’ll do something for treatment… or not.

This time, it was a little different. Perhaps its that 10 years of this is finally wearing me down. While I never felt anxious, I could tell that my body was reacting… 5 or less hours of sleep every night for the past week and the raging headache I’ve got right now attest to that.

Ben, on the other hand, takes all this in stride. It’s almost comical… if it weren’t his life we were dealing with. When I asked him if he understood the significance of the results he said, “Not Really.”

While I think deep down he understands, maybe he’s just also tired and puts any news out of his mind as quickly as he can. Either way, he’s had one heck of a journey and it will continue for the foreseeable future.

So, about that Very Good Partial Response. What that means in laymen’s terms is that the treatment did what it was supposed to do. The lesion in his skull is effectively gone and the spot in his chest, while still there, is insignificant. Had it not been for the chest thing, he would have gotten a Complete Response.

If this had been a test he would have scored in the 90-99% range.

We’re happy with that. It means that MIBG and I-131 worked on him. It also means that we get to do it all over again in October, but at least this time we’re prepared for it.

Thank God for the good results today!



Late August update

imageThere isn’t much to report since Ben got out of the hospital, which is a good thing, really. About the most interesting thing is that Ben is doing GCSF to boost his immune system but this was expected. The image on this post is of Ben giving himself the shot for the first time. (I’m really proud of how he’s handling this. He’s really becoming an active participant in his own treatment, just as I suspected he would.)

He also picked up a cold last week, which is one of those fun ones that lingers forever. He’s pretty congested and still hacking. His sister picked something up, too, as did his mom. So far, the animals and myself are the only ones not sick. :-)

The plan, if it’s so much as a plan, is to do scans early in September and that will tell us if he’s going to do another round of MIBG or move onto something else.

Thanks so much for the love, prayers and support. It really does mean a lot to us all to know that we have so many friends and fellow cancer families out there supporting us.



After MIBG Update

20140805-131206-47526577.jpgBen was released from the hospital on Friday of last week. The treatment itself, as I previously mentioned, was pretty easy but he didn’t have a great time over the weekend. He was pretty nauseas until Sunday afternoon and didn’t eat or drink much of anything.

Right now we’re at the hospital waiting on lab results and he’s getting some extra fluids to make up for the stuff he lost over the weekend. That should perk him up a little…

The picture on this post is of the tumor in his chest. It’s the green area, right in the middle. (The other green areas are where the MIBG/i-131 soaked up in the salivary glands and his kidneys.) The tumor itself is in a lymph node right above his heart, above the aorta. It sits between two blood vessels, which makes it super hard to get to it if they had to biopsy it. Fortunately they didn’t as this type of surgery would have been pretty hard on Ben.

The plan right now is to hang out for the month of August and let the radiation do its thing. He’ll come back Sept. 10th for follow-up scans and that should tell us if it’s doing the job or not. (Please pray that it is.) After that they are looking at another round of MIBG the second or third week of September.

Thanks for your prayers and support.


MIBG Update

20140731-165815-61095060.jpgBen is doing well after a really crappy night. The radiation gave him an extended bought of nausea and vomiting overnight and he slept most of the morning, too.

All in all, the experience, from Ben’s perspective, has gone much quicker than he expected. Of course, the catheter is the part that bothers him the most. I’m not surprised as I couldn’t imagine having to wear that thing for 72 hours either.

From my perspective, the whole thing has been surreal and anticlimactic. Surreal because Ben was the first kid here in Denver to do MIBG so everyone was extra cautious and, even though this has been done before, it was new for everyone. Anticlimactic because once it was in, with the exception of the nausea last night, nothing happened.

Ben spent the majority of his time sleeping, watching YouTube videos, texting with his friends on Kik or playing Xbox with his cousin Anthony. All in all, it wasn’t much different than him being at home.

The plan for tomorrow is to have the catheter removed, do an MIBG scan and then release him. He’ll be going home with me as we still have to keep him away from his sister for at least another week. After that he’ll be back for labs every week as his counts are expected to drop.

Yay! More hospital time!

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. We do appreciate it and, even though we don’t often get to show it, couldn’t get by without it.



A Long Day Today

Today kicks off the official week of MIBG treatment here in sunny Colorado. Unfortunately, the majority of the week will be spent in total isolation for Ben as he sits in a lead-lined room to pee out a heavy dose of I-131 and MIBG.

I suspect that by the end of the week he will have a massive dose of cabin fever and will want to get out, if at least for an hour or so, to see the world. Then he’ll be back to doing the normal teenage things like sitting in his room watching videos on YouTube and playing video games. Which, not-so-coincidentally, he will be doing in the lead-lined room for a week. So, really, this is like a mini vacation for him, with the added bonus of radioactive iodine and the possibility that the MIBG will hunt down all the left over cancer cells. (What he doesn’t realize is that when we said he had to shower every day, we meant it. The radiation also comes out in sweat and that has to come off…)

So, back to the order of business today:

We check in at 7:30AM. He gets a PET scan at 9AM then an some labs and such at 11AM. At 1PM Ben goes into surgery to have a PIC line and foley catheter installed. (The radiation comes out mostly in urine, hence the catheter.)  After that, we wait until Ben is admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay.

It’s gonna be a long, long day for Ben so please, pray for him.



New Lesion

Ben had an MIBG scan yesterday for the upcoming therapy. Unfortunately it showed a new lesion in his skull. He’ll be going in for an MRI today at 2:00 and this should tell us if it’s just a lesion or if it’s actually in his brain.

We made plans to go to Chicago for the NB conference then Sarah and the kids were going to go to Columbus to see family for the week. As of now this is all off.

Frick. I’m tired of cancer and what it’s done to my son.


Treatment Options for Ben

One thing good about the situation we’re in with Ben right now is that there still a lot of options out there. When we spoke to Dr. Macy we were given 6 options. I believe they were given in order of least favorable to most…

  • DFMO with a side of Cytoxin, aka chemo
  • CH14:18 with Lenalidomide (an offshoot of thalidomide… yes, that drug.)
  • Irinotecan and Temodar
  • MLN8327 – Kinese inhibitor Aurora A (I hadn’t heard of this one until today)
  • MIBG Therapy

Most likely we’ll be doing the MIBG therapy here in Denver and follow up with one of the above afterwards. MIBG is the least ‘yucky’ of the bunch, I believe, and also has the best overall response rate.

Now that Ben is old enough, he’s able to give consent to these things, too. It’s tough to be that young and have to give consent for doctors to experiment on you. I can’t imagine the stress he’s going through right now and wouldn’t be shocked if someday he just said “Screw it, I’m done with this crap.” I know other kids have done it and with all Ben has gone through in his 13 years in life, I know hes already worn out, mentally and physically.

If Ben signs, he’ll start his 5-7 days of isolation on July 28th. Pray for the days in between to pass quickly and peacefully. Ben and Madeline both need some time to not have to think about this crap and the summer was supposed to be fun… now it’s just more hospital time.



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