My last post was in late October on the one year anniversary of John’s diagnosis. It’s been almost a month and I haven’t posted because there was really nothing to report. John was on an oral chemotherapy with virtually no side effects that had shrunk the lump in his groin to virtually nothing. His CT scan in early November showed a correlation of shrinkage in the internal spots in his lung, liver, and renal area. So there was really no news (which, with Stage IV Melanoma, is good news).
Now we have news. John started on Keytruda, one of the two immunotherapy drugs that he was on in the clinical trial last summer. It was approved by the FDA in October. This is (supposedly) not the drug that made him so sick with severe colitis he ended up in the hospital for 4 days. It’s delivered every three weeks via a quick, 30 minute IV. The side effects all have to do with his major organs (lungs, colon, pancreas, liver, etc.) so we’ve been watching for any signs of those (particularly in his intestines because he’s at higher risk if he develops a second bout of colitis as severe as the first bout).
He had his first infusion on Thursday, Nov. 13th and as of last week was having virtually no side effects. Then last weekend his stomach started bothering him. It wasn’t bad, no diarrhea or upset stomach, but a nagging, worsening feeling of indigestion right about sternum level. It’s been getting progressively worse. Yesterday he had a checkup and blood work done and it turns out he’s got severe Pancreatitis (his numbers are 4 times what they should be). So it’s back on the steroids to try to calm down his severely inflamed pancreas and Prilosec to deal with the symptoms. We’re not sure what this means for his next treatment (scheduled for next Thursday) but we’re hoping he can continue with this drug. It’s really one of his only options for treatment.
I’ve been like a helicopter wife the past few weeks, looking for any symptoms or signs of a return to the nightmare of last Summer. I know my hovering drives him a little crazy, especially when he feels pretty good, but he puts up with it. He understands the sense of impending doom I’ve been under since we found out getting back on this drug was the next logical step in his treatment, and he’s really patient with me.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. You may be cooking or traveling or eating or watching Football or waiting in line at Best Buy for a smokin’ hot deal on a new big screen T.V. No matter what you’re doing, do me a favor. Take at least a minute to stop, look your loved ones in the eyes, hug them, and tell them just how thankful you are for them. If they’re healthy, breath that in and let it settle.
You are truly blessed. I am too, but my blessings look a lot different this year than they did last year. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Life can change in the blink of an eye and I guarantee, when it does, the little stuff that seems so important right now won’t matter at all.
Thanks for your continued thoughts, prayers, and support. We are truly grateful for them and for you, and will be sending huge Thanksgiving blessings right backatcha tomorrow.