Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tumor Juices

It was never my intention to be deliberately or overtly critical of some of our friends on Facebook in my previous post - I was merely making an observation and a curiously funny parallel between a mock reality show and Murphy's tragic circumstances.

In hindsight I suppose it had a kind of twisted desperate hilarity to it like when my brother Mark referred to Murphy's nasal drainage as 'tumor juices', as in "You can stay in our house just don't get tumor juices all over it."

Later on when we were watching a Spurs game downstairs we heard a racket up in the guest bedroom where Hudson and Murphy slumbered. "What's that noise?" he asked anxiously.

I wryly replied, "It's probably those tumor juices congealing, organizing into a humanoid that'll take your kids away". Mark, having clearly watched way too much Sy Fy channel in his lifetime, said without hesitation, "I've seen it happen, man."

Some days I don't know whether it's absolute clarity or madness I see... whether I'm hearing the voice of God or haunted by Marlon Brando talking about a snail crawling on a razor's edge.

But I do try to keep humor about me. I'm starting to understand that it rarely translates unless you've had me in your home, know our entire story, and maybe even call us your own.

While I'll try to do better and be less esoteric, what a great title for a cartoon 'Tumor Juices'. If I could only draw...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Murphy's Dilemma

Guess I confused some of you recently with cryptic posts on Facebook. It's been no easy thing trying to keep up with the pace of change in Murphy's condition and communicate the bullet points to you throughout.

Coming up with a chemotherapy plan has been considerably complicated. Since we were already in unchartered territories by combining both IMRT and SRT radiation for Murphy's nasal adenocarcinoma, science hasn't been a useful guide for us.

The standard of care for nasal tumors of Murphy's size and location is radiation which we'd maxed out on in December with a double dose. Some of you have asked why would I even consider chemotherapy for Murphy after all he's been through and that's a valid question for which I have no valid answer.

When the first round of radiation failed - not only did it NOT stop the original tumor it somehow resulted in the formation of two new malignant growths. I went into berserk mode. His nasopharynx was rapidly being pinched down to pin sized. Murphy couldn't breath normally, he struggled to eat even though I pureed his food, and he slept only seconds at a time. I doubted Murphy would make it to Christmas but miraculously he did.

SRT seemed to reduce his nasal inflammation enough for marginal respiratory improvement but his prognosis was still rate limited by radiation's ability to regress the tumor (best case scenario) or halt its growth (least worst case scenario) without killing him that is.

All of the doctors with whom I've discussed his situation seem to agree if radiation fails again Murphy will be dead within weeks. But they also agree there is no further course of action. In their opinion, based on the preponderance of evidence, drugs would neither extend his life nor improve it.

This is the miasma in which I've been making life and death decisions on Murphy's behalf. And while I'm flying without radar here if this was the TV show Survivor, I feel like some of you on Facebook would've already voted Murphy off the island.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Perfect for Valentine's Day

Help Murphy, the love of our life, and give a beautiful gift to the love of your life ...

Thanks to our friend and supporter Roz Abrams Smith. She's donating of sales of her beautifully hand-crafted Swarovski RED crystal earrings to help defray Murphy's cost of care. “These stunning round multifaceted ruby red Swarovski crystals are combined with slightly smaller clear tapered Swarovski crystals. Dangling round ruby red crystals float beneath. Sterling silver ear wires and components, the earrings measure approximately 2 inches from the top of the ear wire. Every item arrives in a magical black organza gift bag! 100% of the sale of these earrings will go directly to Luke to help with Murphy's vet bills. 5 pairs have already been sold. Shipping is free with this item within the continental United States.” Please have a look at these stunning earrings at her web page.

You are also invited to friend her on Facebook. Search "The Wizard Of Roz."

For more of Roz's work, please visit her web page.

The Wizard Of Roz is also listed with Where To Get Engaged

To learn more about Roz and her work, please read the interview featuring "The Wizard Of Roz".

Thank you, Roz, for your generosity!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

20 Stones: Unchartered Territories

I keep forgetting that our new friends and followers might be unfamiliar with the history of the Stone Series… my bad. Here are links to the first two posts; 61 Stones; 61 Stones 2

We’re camping out at Somerville Lake tonite on our way to Texas A&M Vet School where Murphy will receive his first dose of chemotherapy tomorrow.

It wasn’t an easy decision I assure you and it was one that’s bedeviled by my own personal doubts, a deficiency of scientific data, disagreements in treatment approaches, and a limited number of drugs to choose from.

But we’ve been in unchartered territories ever since the first round of IMRT failed, Murphy’s cancer spread, and he underwent a second course of radiation.

I suppose most would’ve given up by now but Murphy and I are no strangers to the unknown or the insurmountable.

Monday, January 3, 2011

22 Stones

Don't know where I left off last with Murphy's condition but Christmas week we reached critical mass. He was struggling and I wasn't sure if he'd make it.

I didn't think the massive radiation doses administered over three days would alleviate his airways quickly enough for him to breath sufficiently which is why I explored radical ideas like inserting a shunt or stent.

But the radiation did work and it didn't take the two weeks that was speculated. By Christmas day Murphy was playing with Hudson for the first time in weeks and it was a very special day. That's a photo of Murphy taking off with his X-Mas booty that I entitled, "Kthnxbye".

We were blessed with a mostly uneventful week following Christmas during which I turned 40 and then the Earth added another year to the 4.54 billion and change it has under its belt.

I say mostly because Murphy has had nosebleeds and down days but he's still markedly better than two weeks ago. However, that radiation was so effective so quickly suggests serious side effects are in store. Already Murphy's losing fur on his head and around his eyes that never fully re-grew from the first round but we knew that hitting the tumor hard would be risky.

We are due to return to CSU this morning for a clinical evaluation to assess whether he's a candidate for adjunct chemotherapy though my mind's pretty much already made up since the 'wait and see' approach after radiation last August was a complete failure. Had I run parallel courses then we may have been in a different place now.

Which is perhaps the lesson for the week. When it involves cancer always assume the worst and choose the most aggressive form of therapy. I'm listening to The Emperor of All Maladies on CD now (which I highly recommend) and while it's chocked full of interesting metaphors I'm a movie kinda guy.

While writing this blog The Terminator came to mind when Reese is trying to convey the seriousness of the situation to Sarah Connor. "It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse. And it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead."