As Jodell, myself, and a number of doctors were discussing the pros and cons of going through a heart surgery procedure to remove the thrombus in my inferior vena cava, I had another situation pop up. Early last week my mouth was extremely dry, I had lost 11 pounds over a one-week period, my eyes were dry and I became lethargic. I called Jodell to explain, she called the doctors soon thereafter I was in the emergency room. My blood sugar level was 635. Normal range is between 70 and 140. All the medical care professionals immediately went into action and infused me with insulin and kept me in the hospital for 3 days to get the dosage dialed in. Turns out the Opdivo drug that I have been receiving bi-weekly for my immunotherapy has attacked my pancreas and left it with no ability to produce the required insulin. In the past, the cancer drug has attacked my kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands. All of those conditions were treated and everything returned to normal and I was put back on my normal treatment plan. Unfortunately, in this case, the doctors don’t believe that my body will be able to produce insulin forevermore. The oncologist says no more Opdivo for me which makes me wonder what the new plan will be (TBD). So from now on, I am officially a type 1 diabetic. As a result, it looks like I will be eliminating major food group from my diet as shown in the above picture. What’s a little diabetes compared to stage 4 liver cancer??? Ain’t nuttin’ but a thang! I say bring on the next challenge (or not)! Isaiah 38:16 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live!
Today was the day of that all-important PET scan. Shortly thereafter I met with the oncologist to get the results. After everything was explained to me, I had the feeling similar to watching a football game that ends in a tie. Not much to celebrate but then again, nothing to be upset about. In other words, everything was about the same. The tumor on my liver is about the same size as it was at my last PET scan. Some of the lesions in my lungs have gotten smaller but others have gotten larger. The oncologist suspects that the larger ones are just inflamed from the treatment. The thrombosis that has grown up into my heart remains unchanged. So even though I described this as a tie game, a doctor friend of mine said that stopping an aggressive growing cancer like this is a victory and he would take that every day of the week! So I’m going to change my mind and call it a win!
Since the tumor on the liver and the lesions in the lungs have stabilized a little more focus will be directed towards the thrombosis in the inferior vena cava extending into my heart. We have a meeting scheduled with another doctor on December 19 to discuss options which could include doing nothing, surgery to remove it, or something in between. There are risks associated with every option but worth discussing. One thing is for certain…nothing is going to happen until I get to hold my grandson around Dec 27!! So for now the every other week treatment will continue as is until something changes or someone has a better idea. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I did not intend to put out another update until the all-important PET scan was performed in November unless something out of the ordinary happened. However, the natives are restless. I’m getting several inquiries as to what’s going on and when is the next update, etc. is so here is the latest and greatest.
I continue to get the immunotherapy treatment every other week. The aftereffects of the treatment are mostly non-consequential so far. My blood work numbers are pretty much normal, however, I’m still taking steroids to keep my liver and kidney enzymes under control. The doctor is weaning me off of those because the steroids make the immunotherapy treatment somewhat less than 100% effective. Hopefully in about 3 to 4 weeks I will no longer be taking the steroids and the enzymes will remain as they should.
I did have a CAT scan done on September 27 and got the results the following Tuesday and explained to me by the oncologist. He said that the tumor has stabilized (no change in size) and some of the lesions in my lungs have gotten smaller but others have gotten larger. I hear that as a net “no change”. The CAT scan indicates size only, not the intensity of the activity of the cancer cells with in the tumor. That is what the PET scan will show.
In summary, the doctor told me that I would be perfectly normal if it wasn’t for the tumor. My response was that sounds like saying that the Titanic is a perfectly good ship except for the big hole in the side of the boat. He said “yes, pretty much like that.” As you can tell he and I have become good friends since April.
So going forward, the treatment regiment will remain the same and we shall see what the PET scan has to show in late November. So the game plan is: steady as she goes and react according to changes, if changes occur. To be extreme to make a point: I suppose one scenario would be to continue treatments every other week for the next 30 years as long as everything remains stabilized which explains the picture at the top of this update.
As far as quality of life…. We have been doing a small finish out project at our home. I try to do much of the work myself because I like to and keeps me busy (installing laminate floors, installing doors and trim, painting, etc.) In addition, I try to keep up on my honey-do list whenever the lovely Miss Jodell snaps her fingers. I’m also entertaining the idea of securing some type of construction consulting work here in the Skaneateles area. Currently, I am in Tampa hanging out with Ryan and we intend to go fishing in the Everglades on Tuesday. So my point is I’m very grateful to be as active as I am and, at the same time, fight this life threatening disease.
My doctor has told me in the past that I will never be able to say that I’m cancer free but he apparently does not know the power of my God.
Thank you for all the prayers from the Saints and keep them coming!
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer
Consider this a continuation of my last post. The last post was not definitive as to which way things were headed…..Either better or worse. If you recall, my kidney numbers (Creatinine) were extremely high. To combat this, I was given a lot of hydration. This caused other issues as described in my last post. The idea was to flush my kidneys to get the creatinine numbers in line. So in addition to the hydration they gave me medication to make me go to the bathroom. Once that treatment was completed on Friday, Jodell and I hit the road to go to Burlington, Vermont. It took two restrooms stops and a cornfield to get there but we made it! Now the good news: I was back in the cancer center yesterday for more blood work and a plan of action based on the numbers. Everything is pretty much in line except that the kidney numbers are still abnormally high but headed in the right direction. So the doctor put me in the infusion room to reinstate immunotherapy treatment. In addition, he put me on steroids attempting to keep the liver and kidney numbers where they need to be. Anyway, I see this to be a good thing because were now back on track in dealing with the cancer!
In my last report I indicated that there would most likely be a dry spell of updates until the next pet scan was completed sometime in November. I was anticipating routine immunotherapy treatment every other Tuesday. However, that was wishful thinking or just being naïve. I came in the cancer center for my immunotherapy therapy treatment on Tuesday and some of my vital numbers were out of whack. Seems that my kidneys were a little “jelly” of my liver getting all the attention the week before. So immunotherapy treatment for the cancer has been postponed until further notice while we deal with this kidney issue. I’ve returned to the hospital every day this week including today (Friday) for hydration and steroids. My blood pressure has been as high as 215/101. My heart rate as low as 42. And temperature as low as 96. However, those numbers are slowly returning to normal. I feel fine. It’s just frustrating that we can’t stick to the main task at hand and that is attacking the cancer! My next appointment with my Doc is Tuesday to discuss the way forward.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9
July 23, 2019
I had my appointment with my oncologist today. I consider what he said to be good news! My liver enzymes have come back down close to normal and, as a result, treatments will resume on Tuesday of next week. I will continue this treatment/infusion every other week until changes, if necessary, to the game plan are needed. My concern is that the future treatments will elevate my liver enzymes once again to the point where treatment has to be discontinued. He confirmed that is a concern however also indicated that there is a way to manage that issue. So for right now, I consider my mission to become “cancer free” is back on track. Unless something unusual occurs, be prepared for a dry spell when it comes to an update to the “McVey Report”. The next milestone will be the next PET scan approximately four months from now. As a reminder, this scan will show changes, bad or good, to all cancer tissue.
Currently I feel great and not many limitations on what I can or can’t do. However, I have lost about 30 pounds since I was diagnosed. I see this as a good thing. My appetite is good so bring on the barbecue, ice cream, all the desserts you got, etc!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Just did some more blood work at the hospital. They called me and told me that my liver enzymes looked much better! Now where did that tumor go? Get back over here! We’re not done with you yet!
When my discussion with my doctor concluded yesterday, I had some blood work done before I went home. Very soon after my July 9 post, I was called by the doctor’s office. Seems my liver enzymes are now very high (a bad thing). The theory is that the immunotherapy treatment is causing this unwanted side effect. A known side effect of immunotherapy is that it boosts the immune system to where it might attack good organs in the body besides cancer cells. So for now, immunotherapy has been postponed and my elevated liver enzymes are getting all the attention. That started today with a hydration infusion (salt water) via IV and prednisone (pills). Once the enzymes settle down, it will be back to immunotherapy. I just hope we are not taking the foot off the neck of the tumor and letting it up off the mat!
However the good news today was that we caught 8 lake trout and 2 rainbow trout this morning! Grilled trout tonight for dinner! God is good!
Luke 5:9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken.
“I’m happy” were the first words spoken by my doctor when he walked into my exam room this morning. He went on to describe the cancer on my liver, in my lungs, and the thrombosis (the streamer) up to my heart. He said the tumor on my liver has actually decreased in size. They suspect part of it may have died due to the treatment or cutting off of the blood flow to it during the stopping of the internal bleeding I was experiencing back in April. The lesions in my lungs actually have increased a little in size but the quantity has stayed the same. The increase in size maybe due to the immunotherapy treatment that is causing inflammation. And finally, the thrombosis has stabilized. All the above may not sound like great news because, relatively, everything is about the same. However, he saw this as great news because my type of cancer is very aggressive and grows very fast to the point you can measure the increase in size every day. So the fact that everything is pretty much stopped in its tracks is a good indication that the therapy is working as he’d hoped.
So I couldn’t help but ask what that meant to me. Is this going to increase my lifespan to four years instead of two or three? Or do I get to live out a normal life until a ripe old age? He said there is no way to tell. Immunotherapy is relatively a new treatment that’s only been around for about two years and my type of cancer is so rare, no one can be sure how it is going to react over the long term or even the short term. So all I can do is accept his prognosis and continue to put my faith in the Almighty.
I am not feeling great but okay. I continue to take care of a few chores around the house until my body says enough is enough. I have plans to go fishing tomorrow to catch my first Skaneateles Lake fish! Today was a good day and hopefully tomorrow will be a better one, etc, etc, etc
Continued prayers are most appreciated!
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Another milestone is scheduled for tomorrow. It will be my last immunotherapy treatment using both drugs. More treatments will most likely start in July but only 1 drug will be used. Not looking forward to tomorrow. After about 3 weeks from my last treatment, I have worked my way out of the after effects of the treatment such as fatigue, some discomfort, etc and have been feeling pretty good over the last week. So I know that on about Wednesday, I’ll back to that condition without much motivation to do much of anything. However, all the kids are coming here for July 4 so that will give me a good incentive to get up and about again.
Other than the above, I am not expecting any revelation/news during or after this treatment. The next big day will be July 8 and 9. Now that the radiation and treatment routines will have been completed, I will be scanned again on the 8th to see what effect, if any, the procedures have had on my cancer. I will be meeting with the oncologist on July 9 after he has had the opportunity to study the scan. We will discuss the results of the scan and treatment going forward.
Your continued prayers are most welcome.
Psalm 23:4 Eventhough I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.