Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving and glasses

This week we went to Joliet for Thanksgiving. Jill's sister, Joy, and her husband, Mark, hosted a very large group this year. With a group of 20 or more, this was quite an undertaking. But, it was very nice with loads of great food. Brett & Arielle made it in quite late from Philly - their flight was delayed 4 hours and they landed around 12:30AM Thursday morning. Julie had Wednesday classes. She decided to drive up from St Louis and arrived around 10:30PM. Jill was, of course, anxious about the kids as she is whenever they travel. She was very relieved when they both got to Joliet. In the end, it was a grand holiday and we were very glad to see so many from Jill's family.

Then, on Friday, I had an appointment with Dr Aras Zlioba. I got a complete eye and vision exam. turns out that both eyes are developing cataracts; but, they are not at the point of doing surgery yet. However, it turns out that my vision can be corrected to 20/20 simply with glasses. So, I ordered the glasses and they will be ready Dec 11. I have an appointment to see Dr Z again in May. At that time, he will check the cataracts to determine if surgery is needed yet.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I better write a blog before Thanksgiving since I may not get to write while we are in Joliet. My eyes continue to water/tear and I am anxious to see what the opthalmologist says while we are in Joliet. And, my ears are still filled with fluid. I see the ENT on Tuesday, Dec 1. I called today to confirm my appt and learned that, apparently, the Dr plans to insert the tubes that same day. Hopefully, that will help by draining the fluid. Next, on Wednesday, Dec 2, I have my last Alimta infusion.

We leave for Joliet tomorrow and will be there until Saturday. Both Brett/Arielle and Julie will be coming for Thanksgiving. Brett and Arielle are flying in from Philly Wednesday night and going back on Saturday morning. Julie is coming from St Louis on Thursday morning and, I think, driving back on Friday. Joy and Mark's house will be very full for Thanksgiving. It will be good to see most of Jill's family this week. Should be a very nice Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pretty good news

Today, I got a head MRI and saw Dr Henderson. Because of my recent issues with my eyes, he wanted the MRI and wanted to see me.

The MRI results were great. Of the 13 brain lesions, all are stable or smaller. No new legions. The three largest lesion are all significantly smaller than the last MRI several months ago. The largest lesion shrunk by 20%!!

Dr H does not think my eye issues are caused by the brain lesions. It is, however, possible that radiation treatments might be involved. He recommended to wait for the feedback from the opthalmologist that I am seeing next week. Dr H thinks I may be developing cataracts - which is one known side-effect of full brain radiation treatments.

He also thinks something else might be involved to cause the weeping/tearing of both eyes. He doesn't seem to think that the vision issues and the tearing are caused by the same thing. But, he doesn't think it has anything to do with the brain lesions. He says he would rather defer to the opthalmologist.

The fluid is still in my ears - quite a bit. Dr H says that, since this hasn't, cleared up by now, I need to get tubes. He will recommend an ENT at IU to put in the tubes.

So...pretty darn good day.

Take care and be well. - JimA

Sent via Blackberry. Please excuse short answers and typos.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More review

I got an email yesterday from my radiation oncologist. With the continuation of my eyes watering and some blurred/double vision, he has decided to do a new MRI and discuss treatment options for the brain metasteses. So...I will get the MRI next Thursday and see Dr Henderson afterward.

I have been a little bit of a pain because I am not willing to just wait for more symptoms related to the brain. I would rather be more aggressive in a treatment approach. We'll see what Dr Henderson says next week.

Ongoing I still have one more Alimta infusion on Dec 2. I see the opthalmologist in Joliet. And I have to get through a pretty busy next few weeks with the holidays, Dad's birthday party and the kids visiting.

Then, they start getting ready to put me on the NIH experimental drug.

Oh boy!

Take care and be well. - JimA

Sent via Blackberry. Please excuse short answers and typos.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Outdoor chores done

Wore myself out a bit yesterday doing outdoor chores - stuff that needed to be done bofore winter. PJ (teenager next door) came over to help with a few things. We moved the snowblower to the garage and tried to get it started - no luck yet. But, we'll get it and PJ will use it to do both our driveway and his own. At least the chores are done and we have time to get it started before snow.  Slept pretty late today and, then, we got milk/groceries before the Colts game.

I have been feeling about the best that I have in quite a while. Pretty decent energy level. Good appetite - I finished Jill's PF Changs meal yesterday. I do still have fluid in my ears and may end up getting tubes to drain the ears.

My eyes are about stable - crustiness is gone but they are still pretty weepy and my vision is blurred and significantly effected. Jill talked to her sister today - Joy has worked for an opthomalogist/eye MD for many years. She is going to try to get me an appointment with the doc when for when we are there for Thanksgiving. Apparently, the ointment I have been using includes steroids and I probably shouldn't still be using it after two weeks - especially if it isn't helping. Dr Henderson had told me that my radiation treatments could cause cataracts - so, I'll have that looked at.

So...we will have a couple weeks before all the holiday stuff starts. We'll head to Joliet for Thanksgiving and the Quad Cities for my Dad's 80th birthday party. Then, the kids will be coming here for Xmas.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lung Cancer news article

10 percent of lung cancer patients never smoked

Posted: November 05, 2009
Becky Augustin developed a cold that lingered through the fall of 2005. She was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer.
“I have never smoked, so I was shocked beyond belief that I had lung cancer,” the Indianapolis resident said. “I had heard that non-smokers could get lung cancer, but I never thought it would happen to me.”
Dr. Nasser Hanna, an associate professor of hematology/oncology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a physician-researcher with the I.U. Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, said that 10 percent of lung cancer patients are non-smokers. For reasons not totally understood, women who have never smoked are disproportionally affected by lung cancer. Twenty percent of non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women; 7 percent of men with lung cancer are non-smokers.
In the United States, 219,440 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 159,390 will die from the disease in 2009, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Overall, Hanna said lung cancer will kill more people than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer – the second-, third-, and fourth-leading cancer killers – combined.
How can a non-smoker develop lung cancer?
Exposure to second-hand smoke and such long-term occupational risks as working in factories and coal mines put non-smokers at increased risk.
Researchers also have learned that a genetic mutation can leave some people vulnerable to lung cancer even if they never smoked. The mutation occurs in the epidermal factor receptor gene, which signals cancerous cells to divide and grow, Dr. Hanna explained. Other gene fusions also have been discovered in people who never smoked.
What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?
Unfortunately, the warning signs don’t usually appear during the early stages of the disease. “A person’s first sign might be a symptom of advanced disease,” Hanna said.
According to Hanna, the following are some symptoms of lung cancer:
• A persistent cough;
• Coughing up blood;
• Shortness of breath, and;
• Hoarse voice.
Symptoms of advanced disease may include:
• A new area of pain;
• Unintended weight loss;
• Fatigue, and;
• Diminished appetite.
How is lung cancer discovered?
Unfortunately, current screenings – a chest X-ray, for example – do not find lung cancer early enough to improve a person’s chance for a cure. Until an effective screening becomes the standard that is widely accepted, people – especially smokers and former smokers – are encouraged to talk with their doctors about their risks and to discuss their screening options.
Lung cancer clinical trials
To learn about lung cancer clinical trials at the IU Simon Cancer Center, visit
Michael Schug is Communications Specialist for Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hurray now a mutation is a good thing. I qualify for the new drug through the NIH trials. IU's internal review board is reviewing my acceptance next.

That means that Dr Einhorn will do a new CT with contrast to have new benchmarks for measurement - probably late Dec or early Jan. Should start the new drug in Jan or Feb. This is a fabulous thing because the drug is so highly targeted to a very small group - only 4% of the male, non-smokers have the blood marker that qualifies for the drug. I will be on the drug - not a test placebo. Only 40 men have used the drug so far - some for a couple years with success. Dr Einhorn says they have had very good success with this type of highly targeted chemo.

So, I finish the Alimta - one more infusion Dec 2. In the middle of an infusion today. My lung Xrays are stable - same as 6 weeks ago. Bloodwork is fine.

I am off oxygen and I am feeling pretty good. Still some irritation from fluid in my ears. Will probably need tubes.

And, my eyes are still weeping. Jill thinks I'm just impatient and expect the ointment to work too fast. We'll see. Dr Einhorn says to give it another couple weeks.

Dr Einhorn now says that he is OK with where my weight seems to have stabilized. As long as my energy level is OK, he thinks my current weight is probably healthy.

5th Alimta chemo

Keep your fingers crossed for good news. Tomorrow i get xrays, blood tests, etc and I meet with Dr E. If all is ok, I get a chemo/Alimta infusion around 1:30.  I will go home to relax after the infusion.  About 4 to 5 hours at the IUSCC (Indiana Univ Simon Cancer Center). 

I expect a little grief for losing about 2 or 3 lbs.  I am not totally happy with the progress of my eyes.  They are better and Jill seems to think I might be a little impatient.  I might get back into the opthamologist soon if possible.  I'd like to see if he think I am ontrack. 

So lots of tests and exams tomorrow. Hope all goes well.