Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chicago

Hi everyone! We are here in Chicago now, we arrived on Friday. Sean's appointment was not to exciting, a bit pointless! He did have blood work while he was there and for the first time since October, his red blood count was normal!! He has been doing quite well lately, a few aches and pains here and there though. He is still pretty weak, but he can walk a little distance if he has to. His white blood count seems to be extremely high, not sure that is much of a problem at this moment though. Sean is supposed to be starting his week 2 of biochemo tomorrow, but Sean's insurance has decided to be difficult! They have denied this weeks treatment even after approving the first week! It should be settled tomorrow with the insurance, so Sean will hopefully be able to start Tuesday.
We have definitely been taking advantage of the weekend here! On Saturday, we went to Shedds Aquarium and Oceanarium. It was so awesome going there! I felt like a little kid looking at all the exhibits! We also just explored the city~ we went to this HUGE McDonalds! Today, we spent the day at the Woodfield Mall, which is huge! (I love malls : )). Tomorrow, if Sean is not admitted, we may check out the Sears Tower and go get some Chicago style pizza.
As usual, we are missing the girls greatly! Ella took her first unassisted steps on Wednesday, so I bet she will be walking good by the time we get home!
We continue to need any and all thoughts and prayers, and this week, I would like to ask for a few extra to go out to a few other families that are also being affected by melanoma. Jenni Haley is the wife of Brian Haley, who has just gone to heaven on March 21st. He was only 35, and has left behind a beautiful family. ( http://halleyswaronmelanoma.blogspot.com/). Kieth, Suzan, and Christopher Hallam are also having to deal with this dreaded disease as Kieth may be nearing the end of his journey. ( http://www.kschallam.blogspot.com/ ). There are so many out there going through the same thing our family is going through, and it has been tough seeing how aggressive this crap can be. Please continue to pray for everyone being affected by this.
I will try to update tomorrow to let everyone know when Sean will be starting his biochemo, so stay tuned! ~nicole~

Dolphins at the Shedd Oceanarium




Sears Tower



ELLA



ADDIE








Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An all to short break...

Well everyone, sorry for the big gap in between updates... After a pretty crappy first week of being home full of nausea, weakness, pain, and just over all feeling like crap..., Sean is finally feeling much better! He has been able to get out and do things. Saturday he was able to go out with some friends to a bachelor party, Sunday we had a ton of family over for Easter (which was lovely having everyone over!). Monday, Sean went out and about with me while I did the gazillion errands I had to do, and he also came along for more errands today! He has been EATING~nonstop! Which, for those of you who have recently seen Sean know that is a very good thing! Sean is weighing a whopping 118lbs right now. In August he weighed in at 180, so...
Sean has an appointment in Chicago on Friday, then he is scheduled to start his next round of biochemo on Monday. We have decided to cut out some of the driving and we will just stay in Chicago for the weekend. I am a little excited about it because if Sean is still feeling good for the weekend, we may be able to take advantage of the trip and check out a bit of the city! The down side... hotels are expensive (but so is gas) : )! It will also be hard staying all weekend because it is that many more days we will not see the girls : (. Both Sean and I were quite home sick by the end of the first week, so I am not sure how we will manage staying even longer.
Thank you everyone for all of the comments, emails, thoughts, and prayers we have received. We need every bit of them, and appreciate it all! Keep them coming! ~nicole~

Monday, March 17, 2008

Finally... HOME!

We made it home last night around 9:30 last night. Mrs.Escalante brought the girls home shortly after we got here, I was so excited to see them! Ella was already sleeping when they got here, but Addie was ready to hang out with me : ).
Sean is feeling pretty beat, but he seems to be feeling a little better tonight. He is very weak right now and has been feeling a little nauseas every so often. It is so cute, Ella just adores Sean, she won't leave him alone! She stands at the end of the recliner gibbering stuff to him. She will keep puckering her lips until I lift her up so she can kiss him!
So, I am amazed at what we have learned through Sean's journey with melanoma. We have learned a large amount, from medical procedures, chemo and biological therapies, medications to love, support and hope. We live in the moment and love hanging out with our friends. Today, I learned how to hook an IV up to Sean. He has a port that was placed in his chest, that the nurse has accessed for us (no needles for me : ) ), so I am able to run and change IV fluids that Sean is receiving right now. He only has to have the IV hooked for a few hours a day, so he still has a little freedom.
Sean will start his next round of biochemo the first week of April. We will actually probably head down there on Sunday, March 30th. We will be there all week again : (. I believe he will be getting his next CT scans a couple weeks after he is home from the next round (if that makes sense to you). Well, thats all for now, I will try to update again soon. ~nicole~

Thursday, March 13, 2008

DAY 3: More then half way done!

Wahoo, Sean is more then half way done for this weeks biochemo! He has been handling it the treatment quite well so far. His only major side effect has been extreme tiredness (which I am sure he does not mind sleeping this week away). He has had some pain today though which is causing a little discomfort for him, but he did say the pain is going down a lot not to long ago. Sean has been eating so well this week! He has ate more this week then he has probably ate in the last month! He is up 10lbs since Tuesday- 10lbs in 2 days! Much of that may be water retention, but I do think that he is actually getting some of his fat back also :) .

Does it really look like he is being tortured??

Her is the view from our room!
(if you look closely, you can see the Chicago skyline)
~nicole~

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Day One of Biochemo...

Well, today is day 1 of biochemo, although it is supposed to be day 2 of biochemo! Sean's blood counts were to low to start biochemo yesterday, so instead they gave him a few transfusions first. Deja vu! The same exact thing happened Sean's first week of IL-2. So, he started his biochemo about 10:45 this morning, starting with the chemo part. About 1:45, Sean started the IL-2 part of it, he also received the interferon shot. He is not doing to bad so far, just very tired! They said that he may start to feel the side effects from his IL-2 and interferon in about 2 hours, we will see I guess.

I miss the girls already! I cannot wait to go back home and see them already :(.

Here is a really, really crappy photo of Chicago, but oh my goodness, look at all of those tall buildings in the back ground! The whole city of Fremont could fit into one of those buildings!


Well, thats all for now, I will update when there is more news to tell! ~nicole~

Monday, March 10, 2008

We are here!

Well, we made it! Unfortunately it took us a little longer then expected because our car decided to start overheating last night when we got to the Indiana border. We made it a little ways keeping the engine cool enough, so we stopped at a gas station. As soon as we got to the gas station, the car started working fine again, but I did grab some coolant for the car just in case. We started down the highway again, and of course~it started to overheat again! We made it to a rest stop and just sat there wondering what we were going to do. It was to late for a mechanic to look at it and no car rental places open. We made a few phone calls, Sean's dad Marty was just about to drive all the way to bring us the rest of the way, when I happened to be on the phone with my mom who had told me to put the coolant in the car! DUH! Why didn't I think of that? Of course thats why I bought it~right? Sooo... After the coolant was in, we let the car run for a few and it worked!! So we were off again! We did not make it to the hotel until late because of this, but at least we didn't get lost :).
Anyways, we came to the hospital about 9:00 this morning. So far they have pretty much just went over Sean's history and did some blood work. I believe he will be getting a pic line in shortly and he will start treatment later on tonight. All of the hospital staff here so far has been very generous! At the moment, Sean is in a shared room, but they will be moving him to a private room later, as soon as someone is discharged. They just brought in Sean's lunch, and wow am I impressed! For lunch today, Sean received beef stroganoff (which he probably will not eat because he doesn't like beef stroganoff), a roll, a salad that actually had cucumbers and tomato in it, and a very yummy looking strawberry shortcake! After many stays in different hospitals, usually the food does not look near as good as it is here. He has only had one meal here though, so we will see what future meals will bring.
All About BIOCHEMO: Biochemotherapy is definitely going to be rough for Sean. If anyone remembers the side effects Sean had from IL-2, this will be similar, possibly worse. The biotherapy that Sean will be doing will consist of 5 different drugs! 3 of them being chemotherapies and 2 of them biological therapies. The chemos consist of Vinblastin, Cisplatin, and DTIC. The side effects alone for the drugs consist of nausea, vomiting, fevers, fatigue, headache, chills, rigors, anorexia, anemia, and the list goes on! The 2 biological therapies that will also be included are, Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and Interferon. Sean has already done the high dose IL-2 at Univ of Mich, which was rough! The IL-2 will be continuous throughout the first 4 days. Side effects for the IL-2 are pretty much all of the above plus low blood pressure, water retention, and
reversible kidney dysfunction. He will also receive the interferon shots daily.
I will try to keep everyone updated as the week goes on! Any and all prayers are welcome, it's going to be a long, tough week. ~Nicole~

Friday, March 7, 2008

CHANGE OF PLANS

Well, Sean had his appointment in Chicago on Wednesday anticipating the MDX-010 trial, but there has been a change of plans. I am very fond of his oncologist in Chicago, as she is very aggressive! She has explained to us that the trial may take up to 3-4 months before it can show results. Sean's tumors are very aggressive, and as they are still treatable, in 3-4 months it may become very widespread, so she believes MDX-010 is not the way to go YET. She thinks Sean would benefit by doing biochemo first in attempt to stabilize his tumors, then going on to the trial. Sean will have to receive his biochemo treatments in Chicago, as his oncologist here is against it. We will be leaving Sunday night and he will start treatment Monday morning. We will be at the hospital for 5 days I believe while he is getting his treatment. It's going to be a long week next week, so please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers! Thank you. ~Nicole~

Saturday, March 1, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELLA!

Well, it's not her birthday until Friday, March 7th, but we celebrated it today! Ella is going to be One year old! My goodness, where does time fly? Here are a few photos from her party today :)!

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~Nicole~