Saturday, December 23, 2006

results from 12/19 pet-ct scan

On Wednesday, I received the results from Dr. Schuster. As in the 8/9/06 scan, this one showed activity in my spleen. The spleen itself wasn't enlarged. The activity that it showed was just brighter. It was more intense. There are also some lymph nodes in my abdomen and one near my small intestine, which show activity. He said that the August scan revealed the same luminated spots in my abdomen, although I wasn't aware of this until now. I forgot to ask him specifically about the mediastinum, but he didn't mention it so I guess that area is clean. I will, however, ask him at our next appointment just to be sure the cancer is limited to my spleen and abdomen.

The game plan, which consists of three phases, is the following: First, a laparoscopic splenectomy will be performed. Another website offering helpful information about the procedure is here. Second, a chemo regimen of three drugs - Gemzar, Navelbine, and Doxil - will be started to achieve remission. Third, a mini-allogeneic transplant will be performed aimed at achieving a cure.

The laparoscopic splenectomy is not a therapy. The goal of the surgery would be to diagnose the cancer. Dr. Schuster said that there's a 90% chance that it's Hodgkin's Disease, but there's no clear way of being certain without removing the spleen and performing a biopsy. Hence, that's the objective of the laparoscopic splenectomy. Without my spleen, the Haemophilus Influenzae Type B Vaccine is needed to protect myself from bacterial infection, which is why I received this vaccine after my appointment with Dr. Schuster. I'm scheduled to meet Dr. Sang Lee of Weill Cornell on the 27th at 3:45pm for consultation. My mom, Eileen, and Su plan to accompany me.

The recovery time following the surgery is 1-2 weeks. At the moment, I have no idea when the surgery will take place. With the holidays here, it's clear that it won't take place until some time after the New Year's. If let's say Dr. Lee schedules it for mid or late January, I'd like to return to Chicago as planned on the 2nd (classes start on the 3rd) and then, return to NYC for the surgery prior to the start of the surgery. I'd remain home during the recovery period and then, return to Chicago for the continuation of my studies.

Dr. Schuster said that the chemo regimen of Gemzar, Navelbine, and Doxil would be less intense than what I have experienced in the past and therefore, he believed that I'd be able to study at the same time that I'm undergoing chemotherapy treatment. My counts wouldn't dip like before, which means I hopefully wouldn't have infections. So, he'd contact his colleagues at the University of Chicago Hospital, where I'd receive the treatments. I'd receive 2-3 cycles in total every 2 or 3 weeks. In March some time probably, I'll go for a scan to evaluate what the chemo has done to the cancer. Hopefully, it will put me in remission once again.

The third and ultimate goal of this long journey is the mini-allogeneic transplant. The hospital stay part of the mini-transplant would be easier than before he told me, but the recovery phase will probably be more difficult than before. Starting now, Dr. Schuster and his staff will begin to search the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry for a matched donor. The actual transplant probably won't take place for several months, but the search for a donor must start now. I must call Dr. Schuster's office again on Tues. in order to try to get Denise, my youngest sister, scheduled for a blood test to determine if she's a match. There's a 25% chance that she's a match.

This news is, of course, disappointing and disheartening to us all. My parents have been very hurt by the news. And I know my close family friends - the Chapin moms - are too. We put so much effort into my 2nd battle with Hodgkin's that it's a blow knowing that I must go through it all again. It's going to be tough. At the moment, we haven't told any one else about this. Honestly, to me I don't have a problem telling people. So much has happened during the past year that I feel telling people is the least of my worries. They're shared and followed my journey so much that it would weird, I think, all of sudden to not inform people of what's happening. Yet, my mom (at least for the moment) wants to keep Wed.'s news tight and under the lid.

I really want to finish school on time, so that I can write my thesis and graduate in June. Dealing with school and treatment will be a new challenge, but I'll deal with it when I must. At the moment, the first thing is my appointment with Dr. Lee on Wednesday. We'll go from there. I have lots of questions to ask both Drs. Lee and Schuster, so I just need to take some time to muse over things.


Comment Blogger It's Me, Maven... said...

Good luck with all of this! Stumbled upon your blog by viewing my sitemeter stats.

Though I'd never compare depression with lymphoma, I can tell you that blogging can be quite therapeutic.

God bless, and keep blogging.

12:10 PM  
Comment Blogger Ally said...

oh duane, i'm so bummed to hear this news. i have been hoping that you wouldn't have to go through all this chemo junk again. it is good though that they think you'll be able to continue with school. :) my thoughts are with you. keep kicking cancer ass!

10:57 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Thanks Maven. You're comments are much appreciated.

10:09 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Hey, Ally. Thanks for commenting. It's always a pleasure to find a comment on my blog. . . . Yeah, it sucks not doubt, but I must keep on truckin'. I'm glad to know that you're doing so well. Wishing you continued health in 2007!

10:12 AM  
Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of you, and the only thing I can say in light of my recent experience is- no matter how frustrating the situation is, when it gets worse, it can also get better.
Much love, Lucy

3:00 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Thanks Lucy! You're amazing. Thanks.

12:47 AM  
Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello dear Duane,

I just wanted to also let you know that I pray for and believe in the fact that everything will be much better for you in the near future. Take good care, and may hope and tranquility never leave your heart.

Greetings from Istanbul,


10:15 AM  
Comment Anonymous Anne said...

Duane, I just read today that you relapsed and I am so sorry to hear about it. I hope soon you will find relief from HD. As a fellow HD survivor, I feel for you and I send my positive thoughts and prayers your way. If there is anything I can do, just let me know.

God Bless,


4:49 PM  

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