Thursday, October 2, 2008

Codename: Shock and Awe

After several days of contemplation and numerous visits with various doctors, Lee Ann and I have decided on our next course of action against what is now my recurrent, malignant glioma. Rather than take a more cautious, conservative approach, we have decided to hit it with everything we can and codename this phase of treatment: “shock and awe.”

On Thursday, October 16, I will once again put my brain in the capable hands of Neurosurgeon Scott Shapiro who will remove as much or all of the tumor that has recurred. From what we can see on the scans, he feels pretty confident that whatever is in there is gettable. Before sewing me up, he will “install” a chemotherapy disc which will dissolve over the following three weeks or so and deliver a low level of chemotherapy directly to the affected area.

I am anticipating that I will be home recuperating for four to six weeks. Although I will let my body dictate my return to normal work routines, I am hoping that the downtime will be closer to four weeks rather than six. I recall being quite restless after only a few days of being home in 2007.

When I have sufficiently healed from surgery and the chemotherapy wafer is dissolved and gone, I will start another chemotherapy regimen here in Indianapolis involving the drug Avastin combined with another chemotherapy agent called irinotecan. These drugs will be administered intravenously every two to three weeks at the IU Cancer Pavilion. The goal of this chemotherapy is to choke off the a tumor’s blood supply, thus robbing it of its ability to grow. Avastin, while not yet FDA-approved to treat brain tumors has produced enough good results in other brain tumor patients that it is the logical next step. Another promising aspect is that Anthem, my health insurance carrier, has paid for this “off label” treatment in the past. No guarantees, of course, but promising.

Each treatment is expected to last about 90 minutes or so. My doctor has told me that both drugs are pretty well-tolerated by most patients with low to moderate side effects. If I can keep my hair, I will be delighted. It gives me my mojo. I got spoiled on the Temodar I was taking for the past year that produced nary a negative side effect.

Of course, there are always potential life threatening consequences associated with any major surgery, especially the brain, but the risks are in the low range and things should go pretty much as they did a little more than a year ago. There are other potential serious consequences involved with the chemotherapy (stroke, hemorrhage, etc.), but when compared with doing nothing and letting the disease run its course, the decision was an easy one for us.

When all of the options were put on the table, it became crystal clear to Lee Ann and me that this was the way to go. I have no reservations and am ready to get going.

The next two weeks will be spent getting things squared away at home and at work to make sure this transition is as smooth and seamless for everybody involved. I have been blessed with two boards of directors who remind me at every opportunity that my health and family are my first priorities and not to worry about work. And then there is the small group of men and women that make up the professional staff of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. These people - Chris, Joe, Heather, Linda, Amy P., Amy G., Andrew, Scott, Langela, Lauren, Jake, Billy, Mary and Jamie - are the absolute best. I could not ask for a better group of professionals with whom to be associated, especially when the chips are down.


Strude86 said...

Iriniotecan...sounds like a cocktail in Cabo!

Glad the running about is done and that you are alert to what's next in the treatment regime.

Be well.


SallyB said...

Good luck, cousin! I'm wearing my LiveStrong bracelet in support of all you are going through and my thoughts and prayers will be with you as you enter this second phase of your treatment and surgery. You know that the entire Harper clan is behind you in this, so you've got tons of support coming your way.


CeCe said...

You ROCK! Go get it Terry! We will be on the sidelines cheering you along every bit of the way! Eagerly awaiting our next social gathering! LOVE YOU!

Fav Sista-n-Law said...

We wish you all the luck in the world! We are sending tons of positive energy to you. PLease know that the Kish Crew is praying for you!
I am looking forward to the pictures you post of the newest incision;)
Love you!

David R. Murray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David R. Murray said...

I just tuned in -- didn't know there would be incision photos to look forward to! Glad to hear you have a course of action in mind. Hope all goes swimmingly. Thinking of you! Love to all, David

Doreen and Ted said...

Yes, we are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Lee Ann, could you please let us know how we can help at the house or with the boys. Since real estate is "how it is" I have loads of time on my hands.

Jill said...

From wikipedia, the ultimate source on everything, Shock and Awe is defined as: technically known as rapid dominance, is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power, dominant battlefield awareness, dominant maneuvers, and spectacular displays of force to paralyze an adversary's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.

I think you've got it covered. You, Lee Ann and the boys are in our prayers and we wish you rapid dominance.

We're not far away and we're at your service. Fight on, sir!