Thursday, July 26, 2012

Great News!

Friday Steve and I went to MD Anderson at 10am for his MRI.  We were there till a little after 12.  When we re-checked his schedule, we saw that the check in for his CAT scan was not until 4pm and the scan was not rescheduled to start until 6:20pm.  So, we had a 4 hour window just to even just get checked in???  We went to the scan area and asked if there was any way that they could squeeze him in since we were already there and he had a work function at 7:30pm that he really needed to attend.  They were not able to squeeze him in.  They were booked at all of the scan locations within MD Anderson.  So, Steve and I decided we would drive home, he would get dressed for his work function and then drive back to MD Anderson on his own to do the CAT scan and leave directly from there to go to his work function.   Sounds like a plan right? Wrong!!  They were so busy that they were running behind like crazy.  At 7:30pm Steve finally had to get up and politely demand that they scan him.  They finally bumped him up in line so he could "attempt" to make part of his work function.  (His boss from NY unexpectedly flew into Houston and was taking the office out to dinner.  He only gets to see his boss on very few occasions and really wanted to take the time to thank him for his generosity during all of this melanoma mess!)  Steve ended up making it to the dinner @ 9pm.  Luckily they had not gotten their main course yet and he was able to join them, order and get his food with everyone else.  At dinner he made his first toast in his life to his boss to thank him for everything he has done over the last 7 months.

This afternoon Steve and I went to MD Anderson at 1:00pm to see Dr. Kim for the results of the scans.  Dr. Kim was running behind today also.  He had two students with him when he came in @ 3:00pm, so I am assuming that is what the slow down was.  We didn't mind waiting.  We never mind waiting.  Again, Steve really just wanted to make the office dinner last night.  Before Dr. Kim came in, we got to see our favorite nurse, Delores.  That is always a treat!  She is so sweet!  Then we also got to meet a new P.A, and although I didn't catch her name, she was sooooo funny and a true joy to be around.  You can tell she loves what she does.  She has been with MD Anderson for about 3 months.  She is definitely going to make a great P.A.  When Dr. Kim came in, he said that the MRI on Steve's brain looked great (yay!!)  he also said that since the CAT scans were so backed up last night that Steve's had not yet been reviewed by a radiologist, however he had looked at them and did not see any new melanoma areas on the CAT scan (yay!!).  He said that the CAT scan cut off right at the neck area where the swollen supraclvicular lymph node is, so he wasn't able to get a good look at the lymph node.  However, since we can feel it and Dr. Kim can feel it, A-we still know that it is there and B-we know that it has not grown in size (nor gone down in size).  I mentioned to Dr. Kim that when we had the follow up appointment with Dr. Lee (the surgeon) that we discussed possibly removing the lymph node if there was nothing new on the CAT scan.  Dr. Kim however suggested that we not remove the lymph node.  Since it was where we first noticed that something was wrong and we can feel it, it will serve as an alarm system for us, so to speak.  If it starts to get larger before the 3 month scans are due we can call and get back in there quicker.  I'm ok with that.....for now ;)

So, what's next?  NOTHING!  Since Steve still has the swollen lymph node, he can not be classified as NED (no evidence of disease).  Dr. Kim is classifying Steve as "stable".  Stable is good!  Steve will go back in 3 months for CAT scans and Dr. Kim will also specifically order a neck Xray also to be sure that he gets a look at the lymph node even if it gets cut off by the CAT scan.  He said he will not even have to do an MRI this next time around!  Yay!  He said that "We will do this for 2 years and then after 2 years the scans will be less frequent than every 3 months."  It is pretty awesome to hear Dr. Kim speak long term.  We are also realistic that this melanoma can rear it's ugly head again at anytime.  But for now, we are just ecstatic that we can live "normal" lives for the next 3 months.  During this 3 months, Steve will be on no type of treatment and have no type of appointment at all at MD Anderson.

So, what do we have planned the next 3 months? Well, August we will be going to Austin for my cousin's wedding.  We will stay an extra few days to visit and to have a mini vacation with the kiddos.  Later in August we have another mini vacation planned.  I bought a Groupon to a Bed in Breakfast in Louisiana.  It is kid friendly with lots of things for the kiddos to do.  I would imagine August will also include a trip to Coushatta since we got another free room offer :)  I also have to squeeze in back to school shopping, haircuts, etc.  In September, Steven and I will be going to New Orleans for the Saints season opener to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary!  I am so excited for this, because I KNOW how excited Steven is for this.  We will be there a few days so we can relax and spend some "quiet" time together (we know New Orleans is quiet, right?) Also on September 22, I will be participating in the AIM for a Cure Melanoma walk.  I can't wait to raise money for this wonderful foundation!!!  Then, October (my favorite time of year!!) we take a trip to Sea World every year around Sadie's birthday.  Not only is the weather nice this time of year, but the crowds are thinner and they have all of their Halloween decorations out.  I am also going to squeeze in some platelet donations and writing more blogs for MD Anderson.  Of course I will also keep nagging you all to get your skin checked, practice sun safety, and not to dare step foot in a tanning bed!! So, it looks like we have a busy, and fun next few months ahead of us before the next scans.  The next scans are scheduled for October 24th.

I will post some blogs between now and the next scans to keep you all updated on Steve's health, our life, my fundraiser for AIM, and whatever else I may think about :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Scanxiety......I hate that word.  But it is what it is.  Steve and I have been trucking along the last month or so living a "normal" life.  Steve has still had some pain form the surgery, but overall has recovered well.  He has been working from home and in the office.  We had some friends over for UFC a couple of weekends ago.  Everything has been going pretty well.  Tomorrow is another big day of scans.  He will have an MRI and a CAT scan to see how the melanoma is doing.  We will go back on Thursday to get the results of his scans.  So, as much as I hate the word "scanxiety", I guess I am feeling a little "scanxiety" tonight.

On a side note, I was contacted by MD Anderson today to write my second blog for them.  The topic will be "platelet donations".  I am not sure when it is due and/or when it will be published.  I love contributing though!

A quick family shot at Ashlynn's 2nd Birthday photo shoot.  (Photos by

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blood Drive and Surgery Follow Up

On June 30th, we had a replacement blood drive for Steve.  My ex-coworker/manager organized the event. She is awesome!!! Thank you, Stacey Boldt!!!  We had a GREAT turnout.  We signed up 42 blood donators and 9 platelet donators (this was the max amount od blood and platelet donators allowed!).  There was a mishap with the mobile unit that was sent out.  We were supposed to have a 6 bed unit and only ended up with a 4 bed unit.  Needless to say, it was a crazy busy day for the MD Anderson blood drive workers. They handled it great though!  We ended up with 57 people attempting whole blood donations and 42 actual whole blood donations (some were turned away due to low iron, illness, no ID, etc)  and 6 platelet donations!  For those that have not heard me mention it before, it takes SIX whole blood donations to equal ONE platelet donation AND platelets are only good for FORTY EIGHT hours!  So, having the 6 platelet donations was AWESOME!  It takes about 1 1/2-2 hours to donate platelets, so kuddos to all of the platelet donators for hanging in there with us for that long.  (Had we had the 6 bed unit, we may have been able to squeeze in a couple of more platelet donations.  We were lucky enough to have plenty of willing donors!)  Thank you to everyone who came out and donated, attempted to donate, etc!  Thank you to Stacey for organizing the event.  Thank you to Bunny for hanging out all day!  Thank you to Town and Country Insurance for allowing the blood drive to take place in your parking lot and letting us use your building for potty, kitchen, etc.  Thank you to MD Anderson for keeping up with the steady flow of donors we had and for a great day!

The Mobile Unit
The sign hanging on the door of Town and Country Insurance
Stacey - The organizer and platelet donor!
Blood and platelets flowing 
Cisco with MD Anderson - Very sweet!!
Me donating platelets and trying not to pass out :)  My step dad in the background donating blood. 
Mom donating blood :)

I tried to get pictures of everyone, and I got a lot of people, most of those pictures are posted on my Facebook page.

On Monday, July 2nd, Steven had his follow up appointment with his surgeon, Dr. Lee.  Dr. Lee said that his incision is healing GREAT and that everything (pertaining to the surgery) looks great.  Steve had decided to stop taking his pain pills (lots of pain medication along with anesthesia will make you very constipated!) and had several days of withdrawal like symptoms.  On the day of the follow up appointment was the first day the withdrawal symptoms had subsided.   He is still having some pain, and has been overdoing things a bit.  He was not supposed to lift anything over 5 pounds for 6-8 weeks, and of course he has been.  So, he is starting to feel the pain again, and has started to take the pain meds again, but no where near as many as he was having to take.  Dr. Lee said he should still take his pain pills as needed but was glad that he took a break to get his bowels moving again.  So, hopefully within the next couple of weeks the pain will completely subside and he will be able to completely stop taking the pain meds.

We spoke to the Dr. Lee about future surgeries.  Of course all treatment decisions will be made through Steve's melanoma specialist, Dr. Kim.  But, we asked Dr. Lee if Steve's scans later this month show no new growths if it would be a good idea or possibility to go in and remove the swollen clavicular lymph node (where we first found that he had cancer).  Dr. Lee very eagerly said, "Yes!"  He said he thought it would make a lot of sense to remove that lymph node if everything is still going ok and there are no new growths.  Again, we would have to clear this with Dr. Kim, but it was good to hear that Dr. Lee was on board considering that they all have to meet and agree on things.  At least we know where Dr. Lee stands.  Dr. Lee said the lymph node surgery is much, much less invasive than the adrenal gland surgery.  You are typically only in the hospital 1-2 days.  If Steve had the surgery, he would go home with a drain tube for about 7 days and then would have the drain tube removed. Another option instead of diving right in to surgery would be to have another fine needle biopsy to see if there were any cancerous cells in the lymph node.  If there were not, Steve could possibly just skip the surgery.  I don't know how I feel about that option?  I kinda feel like if it is still swollen, dead cancer cells or live cancer cells, just take it out!  So, we will get a little more information later this month.

On Sunday, July 1st, Steven's Uncle Darril passed away.  Uncle Darril had a lot of medical hurdles the last few years.  He had open heart surgery, a lung transplant, a hip replacement surgery, and then the last couple of months dealt with skin cancer.  I was originally told Uncle Darril had melanoma also, but I found out at the funeral that he actually had another type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.  This is a non melanoma form of skin cancer  Uncle Darril had a wonderful turnout at his services.  He was a great husband, dad, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend to many.  He will truly be missed.  

Steven went back to work today for the first time in over a month.  He is also going to a co-workers home after work to play poker.  It sure is nice to have a little "normalcy" in our lives.  These days we are home together all day and all night, 24/7......I think I'm going to miss him today :)

Here are some photos over the last month or so......

Daddy and Ashlynn swimming 

Daddy and his girls on Father's Day 

Ashlynn, the birthday girl!!