Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Update 12.30.08

Tom and I have been blessed with a beautiful Christmas. Except for an unexpected two-day hospital stay it was very peaceful...but I get ahead of myself.

A while back, not so long ago, Tom took a rather dramatic fall on the way into TIRR. He ended up getting a heck of a headache and was quite disoriented. By the end of the day we were in the ER getting a CT scan. All looked fine so we headed home.

The headaches persisted as did some pretty significant physical and mental deterioration. We were in constant contact with Dr. Kew (who was on break in India) and decided to check into the hospital for further tests. Dr. New was covering the department during the holiday and took good care of Tom. His steroids were increased (to reduce swelling and pain) and his Keppra was increased (in case he was having unidentified seizures). He improved right away.

We were released Christmas Eve and spent a wonderful quiet evening together. We have been blessed with the best holiday food ever from Penny and John's breakfast, to Flynn pasta, Klein (or Uncle Ralph's) enchiladas and virtually anything my mom makes.

Here is Tom wearing his new headlamp from Nic and Austin!

The love and support and help from our friends and family has been unbelievable.

Tom is now doing much better and gave such a good effort at PT yesterday he went home and slept until dinner after which he slept through the night. His MRIs indicate small if any activity, which is very good.

In a few days Nicole (my sister) is coming from Phoenix to spend a month helping Tom and I. Nicole is an AFT agent. While she is here I anticipate a surge of crime in Arizona while the criminals get it out of their system before she comes back and kicks butt again.

Finally, I hear the fund raiser planning is going great! We already have so many donations for the silent auction and the RSVPs are many many.

We are so grateful and blessed to each and every one of you. Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Update 12.16.08

Hi everyone,

Tom has started PT, OT, and Speech Therapy. We are working through TIRR which has a great reputation. In OT the direction is on fine motor skills, and Speech is really about memory. In PT Tom is focusing on balance. Apparently balance is largely accomplished through visual feedback, feeling in our feet, and the vestibular system (something about his inner ear)

Tom also had a special eye exam which taught us that his peripheral vision is badly damaged and of course the feeling in his feet has not come back. He has learned to compensate for these well but the damage done to his inner ear is serious and requires a lot of therapy to overcome.

As such, his balance is very bad. He took quite a fall this morning resulting in a trip to the ER for a CT scan. Fortunately it came back negative. We were back on the road in a few hours and treated ourselves to a Big Mac. Sometimes fat and chocolate are just necessary.

We are both learning a lot. One my recent gains has been in learning about Gerstmann syndrome which is neurological condition brought on by brain trauma. It presents with difficulty with math, left/right distinction, and something else I can't recall now (probably something to do with memory haha). While we wish it was not occurring in Tom it is and it is good to have a name and action plan associated with the situation.

All this sounds bleak but it is not. Tom is so happy and we are loving this Christmas season. We laugh a lot and really enjoy being together.

We have terrific support from friends and family all the way from food delivery and rides to an amazing fund raiser in January.

We are so blessed.
Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Update 11.29.08

Happy belated Thanksgiving. We are up in Arlington, Texas visiting Tom's mom, brother, and his family. It was a lovely few days and we are heading back soon. Since Tom is not driving now I am the chauffeur. It occurred to me on the way up I have never stayed awake that long in a car before!

Monday will be another big day for us. We are heading to TIRR and Tom will have a PT and OT evaluation. From there a therapy plan will be developed to focus on some areas of Tom's brain that have been damaged by the events of the past 17 months and to increase his physical strength. We are both very excited to start this education.

After that we head back to Methodist for another infusion.

Everyday things are getting a bit better. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Love, Theresa

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Update 11.20.08

We have had some very good news. Dr. Kew believes the results of the profusion scan show the mass to be necrosis and not tumor. Dead tissue we can deal with as we then only need to create new pathways to learning...and boy are we working on that!

The Doppler looked good showing no increase in the blood clot and Tom's leg swelling is way down. He now only has to give himself one shot of Lovonox a day instead of two.

And finally the last infusion went well. I starting training to be Dr. Kew's assistant and felt very important. I even held my hands pointing up like they do on tv.

More importantly Tom did not have a bad reaction. It took us a full 10 hours to accomplish all the tests and chemo but we slept in our own bed so life is good.

Next infusion is after Thanksgiving and next profusion scan is in two months. In the meantime we are walking several mornings a week and have seen some amazing sunrises. We continue to be blessed.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Friday, November 14, 2008

Update 11.14.08

It has been two weeks from our last infusion adventure and today Tom is back in waiting for the second. As an added bonus he will have a Doppler scan, a profusion scan, an IV, give blood, and listen to his neighbors argue about shopping at Walmart vs Sears. (She likes Walmart, he thinks Sears has better parking).

Yesterday Tom had his first post radiation MRI. It showed a rather significant mass on his right side. The right as you may recall has had radiation only (as opposed to the left which has had two surgeries and radiation). The MRI makes edema, radiation necrosis, and tumor all look the same. So in spite of all the technology we have no idea what is going on in the big ol' area.

At first we thought surgery was coming along quickly to get rid of the mass but now it seems we will slow down a bit and review the profusion scan to see if we know exactly what is inside and what to remove. The scan analysis will not be complete for a week or so which means a decision on going under the knife is still a few weeks away.

Well the neighbor has moved from Doritos to Cheetos which resulted in a huge belch. Once again I am reminded how $100 for a private room is a really good investment. Tom is snoozing so I am going down for the only comfort "food" I can really count on: Tall cafe mocha, non-fat, no whip extra hot.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update 11.4.08

Hi friends,

We have had one heck of an adventure this Halloween season! Tom went in for his chemo infusion Friday night. Ok allow me to clarify. We left for the hospital at 10a.m. and Tom got his infusion at 6 p.m.! But he got it! This is amazing (and not for the weak of constitution). First Dr. Kew removes THREE vials of CNS fluid from the middle of Tom's brain. It is clear and happy looking. Then she infuses Ara-C a cloudy chemotherapy agent followed by two vials of saline.

Tom said he could hear the air bubbles in his head.

The procedure went well but Tom reacted poorly. Sweating, dizzy, sick to his stomach. Apparently the body does not like the removal of its central nervous system fluid and replacing it with cell-killing chemicals and salt water.

The man rebounded however and after a few hours he was well enough to go home and we were in time for the last of the trick-or-treaters.

Saturday was a great day with errands and naps and healthy food. Sunday did not go as well. Tom had a delayed reaction to the chemo was knocked on his butt. Pain, nausea, exhaustion...and it lasted into and through Monday.

I feel like we are in a movie on the bad side effects of chemo infusions. Popcorn anyone?

This morning is better. We are both off to work and looking forward to a calm and and sunny Tuesday.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Update 10.29.08

Hi Friends,

Tom's procedure went great. He sailed through like a champ and is in great spirits. Although it could be the Vicodin I think he is his usual Zen-master-super-calm-all-is-well-with-the-world self.

I of course maintain the universal balance by being manic and obsessive. Friday we go in for the first drug infusion. I think it is called Ara-C. -- Any brilliant folks out there pipe up if you know about this drug...

Thanks for all your prayers and love and especially for Erin's offer to go in a personally shoot all the bad cells. We may take you up on it.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Friday, October 24, 2008

Update 10.24.08

Yesterday Tom and I celebrated his first day after radiation by spending eight hours at Methodist (I was hoping for dinner at some overpriced bistro but alas…)

We met with Dr. Kew (Oncology) and Dr. Blacklock (Surgery) about Tom’s upcoming insertion of the Ommaya reservoir. Here is an edited summary based on answers.com.

The Ommaya reservoir is a plastic, dome–shaped device, with a catheter (thin tubing) attached to the underside used to deliver chemotherapy, in Tom’s case, to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). As the picture shows,

the CFS is created in the center of the brain and then flows through all the cracks and wrinkles in the brain providing lubrication, nutrients, and again in Tom’s case, possible little cancer cells. We must stop this from happening.

(Back to the article)
Chemotherapy may be administered to patients by various methods, depending on the type of cancer being treated. Some cancer types respond well to chemotherapy given by intravenous (IV) injection, and some cancer types may be treated with oral medication. In both cases, the chemotherapy reaches its target site systemically (carried by the blood). Cancers that affect the Central Nervous System (CNS) pose a special challenge. Systemically delivered drugs seldom reach the CNS because of a network of blood vessels that surround the brain. This protective shield is called the blood–brain barrier. It acts as a filtering device for the brain by blocking the passage of foreign substances from the blood to the CNS.

To avoid the obstacle created by the blood–brain barrier, alternative delivery treatments must be used. These treatments are collectively called intrathecal chemotherapy treatments. These treatments require injecting the chemotherapy directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF is the clear fluid surrounding the CNS. The Ommaya reservoir may be used in several ways. Its primary function is to facilitate the uniform delivery of the intrathecal chemotherapy. By implanting the Ommaya reservoir, multiple rounds of chemotherapy may be given through a single access site.

Placement of the Ommaya reservoir requires a minor surgical procedure with the patient placed under general anesthesia. The procedure is performed in the hospital by a neurosurgeon. The reservoir is placed under the scalp with the catheter positioned into the cavity of the brain where the CSF is formed. Once in place, chemotherapy treatments using the Ommaya reservoir may be conducted as outpatient visits either in the hospital. To perform an Ommaya reservoir tap (CSF sampling and chemotherapy delivery) requires 15–20 minutes with little or no pain to the patient. (end of article)

We are looking forward to a quick procedure and an afternoon watching old movies. I'll write more next week.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Monday, October 20, 2008

Update 10.20.08

Just another great weekend in the Lawrence household. Tom got his birthday present delivered: A Sony TV 47". I contend it is gigantic. He comments it is a "normal" size and I think he wishes he would have gotten a "big" tv.

At any rate, if Comcast would cooperate we might get to use it :-).

As opposed to showing you Tom watching his tv I am enclosing YouTube links to the Sony Bravia Commerical and then one on the making of. They are both really fun and if you have not seen them they might just brighten your day. (Cut and paste into your browser)

Sony Bravia commercial

The making of Sony Bravia commercial

Please keep Tom in your prayers as we enter into the last week of radiation.

Love, Theresa

Friday, October 17, 2008

Update 10.17.2008

Another week of radiation under the belt! Next Wednesday is the last day and Tom will once again ring the bell!

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Update 10/14/08

Hi guys,

10/10/08 was Tom's 52nd birthday and we celebrated in style. Well....in our style anyway. We went to Goode Company Seafood and had food that was just delicious! They even gave the birthday boy a big ol' slice of Pea-Kann (practice saying this out loud - it is fun) pie to take home!

On the health front we have had a bit of a set back. It seems this round of radiation is taking its toll a bit more and Tom is battling some demons. His short-term memory is slipping as is his general concentration and some processing skills. He has not been driving for a few weeks now (and frankly I think he likes having a "driver" available :-). With the help of Penny and John he is chauffeured to work and radiation and home each day. Truthfully I love the extra time we get together.

Radiation will end next week and then we learn more about the next procedure Tom will be having. It is basically creating a small cavity in this head with a tiny tiny tube coming out. This will allow for another chemo drug to be injected every two weeks. This method of insertion and distribution throughout the brain's membrane helps eliminate the notorious blood-brain barrier that prevents many drugs from annihilating the cancer cells as well as we would like.

At any rate I am still researching and will know more soon. We are having a great life through all this.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love, Theresa

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Update 9/30/2008

Please look down to the 9/28/08 post. Due to my technical handicaps I can't seem to move the post up to the top but it is so well seeing!

Love Theresa

Monday, September 29, 2008

Update 9/29/2008

First and most important Tom is doing great. We had 16 days of no power and Big Tom was able to keep up with his radiation and his attitude is great. Here is what he overcame:

1. Me not wanting a generator.
2. Me cooking 14 out of 16 dinners on a camp stove because we did not have a generator.
3. Me cooking two breakfasts on a camp stove. See generator statement above.
4. Me making coffee at least 16 times on a camp stove. See generator statement above.
5. Me becoming soooo happy when on Day 13 we got a generator (thank you ATF)
6. Me not wanting a chain saw.
7. Me trying to climb trees to get down giant limbs with a hand saw (because we did not have a cahin saw).
8. A few hot sweaty nights. (In truth the rest of the nights were cool and comfortable)
9. Me thinking a land line phone is a dumb thing to keep.
10. Getting the old phone out of the garage and getting us contact to the outside world.
11. Me thinking this was a terrific adventure and remaining frighteningly chipper during the entire 380+ hours or so.

He continues to amaze me.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Update 9/28/08 - Little Drummer

Dear Friends,
Once again with the help of Gerry Manacsa and Sam Larch there is a video posting on this blog. Attached please find a video Tom made back in Christmas of 1999. It cracks me up every time I see it.

I hope you enjoy.

Please keep Tom in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Friday, September 19, 2008

Update 9/19/08

It sure has been a wild two weeks (but thankfully not bad at all). Tom managed to get blood work and an MRI done right before the storm so there was no delay in that regard. His radiation did get interrupted for 2-3 days but he is back on track again. Methodist does have a machine down however so his appointments are taking a lot longer than usual. If you are bored at 2 p.m. weekdays send Tom a text. I know he is just sitting there trying to stay busy!

We don't have power yet...it has been over a week. We are really doing great. It is forcing us to brush up on the "ol' cooking on a camp stove" skills and wearing head lamps. Tom is sleeping great and getting good fresh air.

We are both working like crazy. Please keep Tom in your continued prayers.

Love Theresa

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Update 9/3/08

Hi Friends,

Today Tom went in for his "simulation." It is when they fit his new mask for radiation. Thanks to the very huge efforts of his doctors and a terrific woman named Lupe, BCBS finally gave permission and Tom was able to move forward in his treatment. Generally they have been a good insurance company but do not like to pay for radiation. Keep that in mind for a weird game of bar room medial trivia.

Radiation will start next week. We are happy and blessed and in love and eating well.
Please keep us in your prayers.

Love Theresa

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Update 8/28/2008

Hi friends,

A while back Tom created this very cool video of his last radiation treatment. I was unable to load it onto the blog (user error!) at the time. With the help of webmaster Gerry Manacsa it is now loaded.

Please enjoy the visual of what Tom is about to start again (ironic isn't it?).

Love Theresa

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Update 8-27-08

Hi friends,

Well it turns out Tom's cancer cells are quite persistent. They have gone on a voyage and crossed to the other side of his brain. They are trying to set up a neighborhood but luckily we are smarter than they are.

There are four tumors growing. The largest is 1.6 cm which a far sight smaller than his original one which was 4 cm. We are completely lucky that they are on the other side of the brain which makes Tom eligible for radiation. He will start another 30 days of treatment within a week or so to knock the life out of those little buggers.

I must say the yucky cells are getting annoying so please focus your thoughts and prayers on a complete and total cure for Tom. We are wishing for a total cure by Christmas and to do that we will need your help.

Of course we also have great help from Tom's doctors and associated team. Here is a picture of Tom getting an infusion of Avasin which is new drug designed to stop leaking blood vessels (a side effect of both tumors and radiation necrosis). It went well.

Tom is happy, staying fit, working way too many hours, and sleeping well at night. We are blessed.

Love Theresa

Friday, July 18, 2008

Update 7/17/08

Hi Friends,
Today we met with Tom's Houston oncologist and Tom has decided to stay on his current chemo treatment.

Since things are so stable now I think the blog postings will become less frequent but if anything changes we will let you know. As always good thoughts and prayers are requests.

Love Theresa

Friday, July 11, 2008

Update 7/11/08

Hi everyone,
It is late but wanted to give you an update. Today's NIH visit went great. There are some tax dollars being well spent!

We met with several amazing neuro oncologists (including Dr. Fine) who reviewed all of Tom's records and scans. There was general agreement that so far we have had excellent care but Tom was invited to join in one of three studies. The studies take the same basic approach we have been using but use new (and hopefully) more aggressive drugs. The drugs are all experimental so we can only use them in a study situation. Alternatively we can continue with the care we have been getting using an experimental protocol with more traditional drugs.

We have a lot to think and pray about but are excited about the second opinion and new options. We are meeting with our Houston oncologist, Dr. Kew Monday so we can discuss what we learned.

Thank you for your continued interest and support. We will be home soon!

Love Theresa

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Update 6/25/08

Exciting news on the Tom front!

Based on a podcast sent to us by Donna Flynn we became aware that the National Institutes of Health sometimes reviews brain cancer patient's history and offers second opinions. We were able to find the right people to talk to and Howard A. Fine, M.D. (Chief, Neuro-Oncology Branch National Cancer Institute; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institutes of Health) has agreed to review Tom’s history and offer us his opinion on how to best proceed. Here is his profile online: http://ccr.cancer.gov/staff/staff.asp?profileid=5635

To do this we will need to fly to Bethesda, MD to meet with him and his team at the National Institutes of Health. We have been able to obtain an appointment on July 11, 2008. We will travel July 10 but have been able to set it up to return on the weekend. We have very mixed feelings about this opportunity but cannot pass up the opportunity to learn more.

This all seems to be going great. Tom feels fine and aside from hair loss made it through radiation well. Thursday we have an appointment with Dr. Kew his oncologist and the chemo starts up again.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Love, Theresa

Monday, June 23, 2008

Update 6/22/08

One year ago today Tom had his first brain surgery. This is our one year anniversary of fighting to win this battle over nasty cells with happy molecules.

Yesterday Tom put it well: "The last year has been terrific aside from a few minor challenges." It is probably not the way I would describe it but that is because I am neither actualized nor particularly positive.

At any rate I thank all of you for the love and prayers that allowed Tom to spend this fine year with us. I fully expect to write the same message every June 22 for the next 10 years (at least).

Love Theresa

Friday, June 13, 2008

Update 6/13/08

Radiation ended Tuesday 6/10/08 and Tom is one happy man. He will continue to have the radiation working in his system for two more weeks. After that we go in for his first post-radiation MRI and to start back up on chemo!

Here is Tom "ringing the bell!" You get to ring the bell on your last day. He had the best support crew ever!

Love Theresa

Friday, June 6, 2008

Update 6/6/08

Peripheral neuropathy

What is that you may ask?

Peripheral neuropathy (pronounced per-if-eral new-rop-athy) is a term used to describe changes in the way that particular nerves work.

Hmm you ask? Can you give me some background?

The nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord and a complicated network of nerves that thread throughout the body. It has two main divisions:
the central nervous system (CNS), which consists of the brain and spinal cord
the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which consists of nerves that carry messages between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body (such as the arms, legs, hands and feet).
Nerves carry nerve impulses back and forth between the areas of the body and the brain. Nerves are made up of nerve cells called neurons.

Neurons are very thin. Some are very small, and others can be 3 feet (1 metre) long. Many are shaped a bit like stars that have been pulled at each end so that they have long fingers. The fingers of one nerve cell reach almost to the next neuron, but there is a gap between them.
Motor nerves carry messages out from the brain to all the muscles in the body. Once the muscle receives the message it will react with a movement. Messages can be sent from the brain to any part of the body.

Sensory nerves in the body carry messages to the brain from sensory receptors all around the body. They enable us to sense physical feelings such as pain, touch and vibration and also allow us to know where our body is in relation to the space and objects around us.

When a nerve cell is stimulated by a message such as heat, cold, touch, or sound vibrations, it begins to create a tiny electrical pulse in the cell. This electrical impulse causes a chemical change in the nerve that travels the full length of the neuron. When the electrical impulse reaches the end of the cell it usually triggers the release of chemicals that carry the electrical impulse to the next nerve cell. In this way messages can be sent from nerves anywhere in the body to the spinal cord and then up to the brain.

Wow you are thinking...what are the symptoms?

Muscle weakness - Damage to the motor nerves may cause weakness in the arms and legs, which may make it difficult to walk or to do daily tasks. You may find that your arms or legs feel heavy
Pain in the area - Known as neuropathic pain
Numbness - Known as hypoaesthesia
Loss of sensation - Known as anaesthesia

And finally you may be pondering...why is this in Tom's blog?

Chemotherapy and other drug treatments for cancer are the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy in people with cancer as they can cause damage to peripheral nerves. Ever since Tom got his blood clot back in August 2007 he has had varying degrees of pain, numbness, and weird feeling in his hands and feet. Luckily he brought up to his doctors so often that I had the discussion memorized. Mostly the doctors say it is due to the blood clot. Unfortunately it took a visit last week to another doctor for us to learn that this presentation is either due to his chemo meds or a result of surgery. Since the symptoms vary it is probably chemo related so when he is cured and off chemo these symptoms will reduce and may go away.

How weird is it that finger tingling and foot numbness could be due to a drug designed to kill your dangerous brain cells? Sounds like a sit com.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

Love Theresa

(primary source: www.cancerbackup.org)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Update 6/3/08

Tom is in the final stages of radiation. Up until now they have been giving him a standard dose in and around the tumor cavity. Yesterday they started giving him a boost. This is roughly double the radiation in a very specific area. The area is that which has been identified as the one where the last tumor regrowth started.

Tom's energy remains fine and his doctor is amazed that Tom continues to work his usual long hours. Tom has experienced "some" hair loss but otherwise his appetite and attitude remains great.

Tom has a great radiation team that actually specializes in treating children. The guy on the left is Dr. Paulino and his nurse Peggy is the blond front right. The team has been terrific and we are blessed to be working with them.

Love theresa

Monday, May 12, 2008

Update 5/12/08

Well here we go to treatments 10-15 this week. So far everything is great. Very little sensitivity in the area, few headaches, good energy and no decrease in appetite.

Last Thursday Dr. Palino was pleased with Tom's health and I'm sure when we see him again this Thursday it will be the same.

I think your good thoughts and prayer are all working!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Update 5/5/08

Well Tom made it through the first three radiation treatments last week. So far so good. Very few side effects and he is going strong. Today the count down is #30 and by the end of week we will be in the 20s!

On Thursday we will meet with Tom's doctor for a quick check up. Aside from that we are not expecting much news this week but will certainly keep you posted.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update 4/29/08 update

Well radiation started today. Day one of 33. Or is it Day 1 of 33. Guess I'm tired if I can't recall my grammar.

Anyway it went fine. Tom has two great women helping him during the radiation (and another if I may be lacking in modesty....sitting in the waiting room).

So here is what happens:
1. They lay Tom on a table.

2. They place the mask on his precious head and attach it to the table.

3. They zap him for about 15 minutes. During this time he can listen to his IPOD through their stereo. I'm guessing there was some old Zepplin in the mix.

4. .. and they watch him the entire time on four cameras.

5. They let us go home.

I'll be going with Tom all week and we will see how he reacts to the external beam radiation treatment. Perhaps after that he can go alone.

As I mentioned earlier he will go for 33 treatments which takes over six weeks. We are so blessed to have understanding employers and live near a world class medical center. But I know Tom will be way ready for a beer come mid-June!

Love Theresa

Update 4/29/08

Hi guys,
Radiation starts today.
Yet another chance to kick this cancer's butt. I'll keep you posted.

Love Theresa

Monday, April 14, 2008

Update 4/14/08

Well I did not think I'd be posting again so soon but last week we learned Tom has a recurrence. It is "nodule" as Dr. Kew calls it in the same place as last time. She and Dr. Blacklock (surgeon) both recommend Tom start radiation.

So we get learn something new again. Here is an overview. Tom will get 33 doses of radiation taking place Mon-Friday for about 6 weeks. They will focus on a small area to minimize brain necrosis which is basically killing brain cells. If they keep the area small the risk of long-term damage is small. Also because his tumor is in a fairly safe are there is little risk of motor or sensory damage.

Tom will be getting a custom "mask" made (he is holding a sample below).

Once they make the mask they place it on his head and then attach it to the radiation table. He then rolls under that big 'ol machine and gets zapped. Although the entire process can take 30-45 minutes he is getting radiation for seconds.

Acute side effects may be fatigue and long-term effects may be a cured and happy, healthy long life. Please keep Tom is your prayers.

Love Theresa

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Update 4/1/08

As expected last Friday Tom got his stitches out.

Bless his heart it was a bit painful and not at all fun to watch. I hope this picture illustrates both points.

Unfortunately for those of you that like drama, and fortunately for those of us that really don't...there is not much else to report. Tom is getting stronger and even getting back on the computer. He is starting to work a little from home and will be back onsite at Gothum soon I expect.

Aside from a few more wrinkles I am also doing great (there is a noticeable correlation between how Tom is doing and how I am doing). I'm thinking (and hoping) that this will be the last post for a long while. As these things do change please keep us in your prayers. We remain so grateful.

Love Theresa

Monday, March 24, 2008

Update 3/24/08

Good Morning.
Yesterday Tom and I had a great Easter. Here he is wearing his new Easter buff (thanks Penny and John!). Last week went well. We got out of the house a few times and Tom got back on the computer to check email.

I'm heading back to work today so Tom is his own social secretary again! He is checking emails and taking walks which is as close to perfect as we can wish for right now. He still has some R&R in his future but everything seems great.

The next milestone is Friday when we get the stitches out and after that is an MRI early April.

As always we thank each and every one of you for your love and prayers.

Love Theresa

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Update 03/16/08

As things calm down the updates will become less frequent and it is my fervent hope it will never get active again. That said, we do have a few more exciting weeks. Today for example we had a one-off experience: a home hair cut.

Faye came by to help Tom transition back to a more even look. Thank you for brightening our day. In the next weeks Tom will start some new drugs, get his stiches out and will hopefully be back at work by the end of the the month.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Update 3/14/08

Well we are home and I am waiting for that flood of happiness that will engulf me. Six days ago I was unsure if Tom would walk back into our home but now as he sleeps I really feel just a bit tired.

We are working hard to get back to normal and that will happen in due time. In the meantime we are figuring out new drugs and getting back into managing the old ones. There is bill paying and grocery shopping on the horizon and all sorts of in-home infrastructure to be dealt with.

Both of our employers have been kind and understanding and we are very grateful. We have more family members and friends than we can count send wishes and prayers through calls, emails, and TM. The requests to visit have been large and I thank you for understanding the time is just not right...yet. Soon Tom will be dying to see a face which is not attached to my body :-)

Trey Bean, a long time friend of Tom's sent these pictures today taken from a tall building in Dallas during last Tuesday's fog. Without getting verbose I present them as an analogy to Tom's last week.

Love Theresa

Update 3/14/08

We are going home!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update 3/12/2008 (done on 3/14)

Tom made it out of ICU! It took all day since the hospital is full but by 9 p.m. he was on his way. Special thanks to the ICU nurses Lissa and Ruth (and our old friend Mary from the first lap).

Tommy and I left the hospital at 10 p.m. last night and Tom was happy. The TV repair man was working in his room, he had a cup of Blue Bell Ice Cream and the pain med had kicked in. It was a long day for Tom but hopefully things can slow down now.

It is likely he will be home Friday or Saturday. How amazing right? Brain surgery and maybe home within 100 hours.

Love Theresa

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Update 3/12/08

Wow I think I just broke through the hospital's blog filter. For two days I could not post on site. Yipee!

Anyway Tom is doing super today. He has pain but also has drugs which I always think is a great combination (like bittersweet chocolate and a nice cab...). At this moment is is getting an ultrasound. I can't show an actual picture right now because they won't let me photograph it. It is Phillips Doplar IU22. I'm not sure why they think it is top secret as this picture is on the web. Anyway this is going on up and down his legs and should help someone evaluate his long standing blood clot.

They keep promising to move him to his own room soon but the hospital is still full. I'm sure he will be in a private room soon. Overall he is weak and a little goofy but healing very well.

We have met with Dr. Kew, Tom's oncologist and have determined the next course of treatment (more chemo, no radiation). Thanks for your continued interest.

Love Theresa

Update 3/11/08 (on 3/12)

3/11/08 was a great day. In a nutshell the surgery went great and Tom is recovering.

(Begin details)
The day started at early and we were admitted to the hospital at 6 a.m. (again "we" is really "Tom"). At 7 a.m. the nurse brought Tom his stylish gown and stockings and he signed a lot of papers. At 8 a.m. they rolled him out for an 8:15 start. Tom has a great doctor who shared Tom's taste in music so Tom brought him a Don Henley CD which they played during the operation.

At 11:30 the doctor found me in a PACKED waiting room and said everything went great. They were still in there sewing him up but Dr. Blacklock felt they had a total resection, no excessive bleeding and no complications. He was very pleased.

At 12:30 or so I was allowed a three minute visit and Tom looked great. He was drugged but very calm and peaceful.

As it turns out not only was the waiting room packed the entire hospital was. The patient rooms were all full so people from ICU could not be moved out. That means ICU is full and the recovery patients can't move out. Tom finally went into ICU at 7:30 p.m.

Once there and settled he got another great staff and when I left him at 9:30 he was sleepy and hoping for some Jello.

(end details)

I'm heading back now to catch the doctor before rounds. Your calls, text messages, and emails mean so much. I am sharing each with Tom!

Love Theresa

Monday, March 10, 2008

Update 3/10/08

Here is a graphic of the Stealth machine that is going to help Tom's surgeon.

Update 3/10/2008 2 p.m.

Today Tom went in for his pre-op.

This involves more fun stuff than I can write in a single blog posting. I will try and summarize.

We (I use this figuratively) start with giving blood. I think Tom has lost 10 pounds in blood over the past weeks. He looks like a pin cushion :-) . Then he answers about 100 questions and we meet with the insurance coordinator. I would like to be an insurance coordinator. Basically they say they will call you later and if they don't bring your credit card to the operation (really).

Next we head to the MRI. Tom gets contrast in through an IV (another stick) so that the MRI can give a better image to the doctor.

Then they shave part of his head and apply fiducials. There are 8 fiducials applied in a circle around his head and 2 more placed on the tumor area. These are sticky circles that serve as markers for the doctor to use the next day. Read below for more information on fiducials according to Wikipedia.

-- Start complicated stuff:
In radiotherapy "fiducial" points are landmarks in the tumour so that treatment targets the correct area of the body.
A fiduciary marker or fiducial is an object used in the field of view of an imaging system which appears in the image produced.
Markers may be used to make otherwise invisible or difficult to distinguish features of an image more visible. Markers can simplify computerized image processing applications such as motion capture, by providing an easy-to-track feature in images which follows the movements of the marked subject.
The appearance of markers in images may act as a reference for image scaling, or may allow the image and physical object, or multiple independent images, to be correlated. By placing fiduciary markers at known locations in a subject, the relative scale in the produced image may be determined by comparison of the locations of the markers in the image and subject.
Images of the same subject produced with two different imaging systems might be correlated by placing a fiduciary marker in the area imaged by both systems. In this case, a marker which is visible in the images produced by both imaging modalities must be used. By this method, functional information from SPECT or positron emission tomography might be related to anatomical information provided by magnetic resonance imaging.
-- End complicated stuff

All joking aside we are so very happy with the medical care Tom is getting at Methodist. We recommend them very very much.

The next step is to go home and relax. Tom should eat healthy and not have alcohol AND cannot have any food or drink after midnight. Me on the the other hand can drink heavily and eat myself into a coma. I will try and refrain.

We start tomorrow very early. He should be out of surgery by noon. I will try and get on the blog as soon as possible after and update. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Update 3/9/2008

Well as the big day gets closer we are calmly preparing. Here is Tom getting his pre-pre-op haircut. During the surgery they only shave what is necessary so this time we decided to get more of a buzz cut in advance to avoid the "Riff Raff" look.

Here Tom is with his long-time hair cutter Faye. I must admit I do like the short George Clooney look!

Tomorrow we start early with blood work, MRI, and the positioning of little dots on his head to help the surgeon and the associated laser machine. I will write more Monday.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Update 3/3/08 3 p.m.

Today Tom went in and had a filter placed in his vena cava. This filter will catch any clots that break free and capture them before going to the lungs which would result in a pulmonary embolism (very bad event). Since Tom has blood clots in his leg and cannot be on Coumadin for a while this was a necessary precaution. Here is a picture of the filter. I thought it would be like a screen but actually it is like a relaxed daddy longlegs. All this is done through a small incision in his groin area.

It was out patient and we are now home and he is (supposedly) resting. He will be at work tomorrow.

Love Theresa

Update 3/3/08 5 a.m.

Thank you for checking in.

Last June when Tom was first diagnosed with a brain tumor the love and prayers he received from all over the country were amazing. I fully credit them with the very successful eight months we have had. Aside from an annoying blood clot in his leg, Tom has been doing terrific.

Last Friday during his MRI a tumor recurrence was spotted. Unlike his first event which was the size of a golf ball this growth is described as a 1 cm “button.” It should be easily removed and we will be back on track.

The first step in the procedure happens today when Tom has a filter placed in an artery so that should his blood clot break free during or after the next surgery it will not make its way to the heart or lungs.

On March 11, we will return to Methodist for the actual tumor removal.
There is not a thing we need but your love and prayers. And frankly we would really appreciate all you can spare. Thank you again.

Love Theresa