Surgery Done

What an excellent day in the battle against cancer.

Nicole is all done with her surgery and is in the recovery room, waking up from some good anesthesia.  By all accounts, everything went very smoothly.  Both doctors said that things went as well as they could have hoped for.  The highlight, of course, is hearing Dr. Barber say the magical phrase “complete pathological response”.  We’ll stay in the hospital overnight and can stay until Sunday if she wants to.

There is plenty left on her path – appointments, recovery, expansion, and another surgery around the end of the year to replace her expanders with implants –  but today is certainly a HUGE milestone.

Thanks again to everyone for the extraordinary support.


Halfway Point

Great news:

Dr. Barber – our surgeon just came by and said that his part is all done and that everything went very smoothly.  Also, even better: the area where the cancer was has been tested and no traces of cancer were found.  He said it appears that she had a “complete pathological response” to the chemo, which is the best possible news we could get.  Exactly what we were hoping for.  A few more hours of surgery now with Dr. Woods, who will do the reconstruction.

Thanks to all of you who are cheering her on today.  She is amazing and is doing great.  I’ll post again later when surgery is all done.


On to Taxol

(from the files of Joey the guest-writer)

We went in today for our first round of Taxol and Nicole did great, as usual.  Our only hiccup today was that her blood counts came in too low initially again, this time in the mid 800s (she needs to be at 1,000 in order to be able to do chemo on any given day).  So, off to the stairs we went again!  24 steps per flight, five flights, seven trips up and down the stairs.  1,680 stairs in total – 840 up and 840 down.  She did the blood test again and scored in the 1,200 range.  We are now true believers in climbing the stairs to boost your white blood cell counts.  Two for two.

Taxol is a bit quicker than Cisplatin – only a three hour infusion, plus about a half hour of pre-meds.  Still, a really long day.  Today was made considerably easier, though, by two excellent neighbors in the infusion center – Mike and Mary, who were about our parents’ age, struck up a conversation with us and we talked and laughed with them for almost two hours.  We covered politics, history, careers, hobbies, children and grandchildren.  They are fabulous people and we really enjoyed talking with them.  Cross your fingers for Mike, who has battled and beaten cancer twice and is on his way soon to get a bone marrow transplant.  We were in awe of his great spirit.

Thanks also to my parents, Dan and Betty Jo (aka Grammy and Pops), who came in yesterday and are keeping the house and kids in one piece this week.

It is GREAT to have good friends and family like you all.  We can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the support and help we get from each of you.



Another day at the cancer circus.

Dropped the kids off at “Robot Camp” this morning and headed down to Emory for Chemo Day 4 (last day of Cisplatin).  We did labs, met with Dr. O’Regan who did a physical exam and said everything was great, then we headed downstairs to the infusion center.  While we were still in line, one of the clinical trial coordinators came down to tell us that Nicole’s white blood cell number was 990 and it had to be 1,000 in order to do the chemo.

1st Coca Cola in 20 yearsWe were shocked – the Neulasta shot Nicole took the day after the last chemo was “guaranteed” to keep the white blood cell count up.  So much for that!  They did say we could try again in an hour or so.  So, we checked with the folks who draw the blood to get their inside secrets and they said to drink a Coke and climb the stairs 4-5 times right before she did the labwork again.  So, off to lunch we went!  Nicole enjoyed half an omelet and some pancakes, plus a few cups of coffee, then we grabbed a giant Coke to go (her first in many years!) and hit the stairs.  Five reps of 5 flights later, she did the bloodwork and came in around 2,400 (up from 990!).

Trying for a blood cell count spikeSo, count us as true believers in the Coke and Stairwell combo.  About six hours later, we were done with chemo and heading home.  Bye bye Cisplatin and all your nasty side effects.  In three weeks, we will start on Taxol.   A fellow clinical trial participant and a great infusion center nurse tell us Taxol will be much easier (aside from the likely hair loss) than Cisplatin, but we’ll see…

4 down, 4 to go.


Ghost writer

Nicole is already snoozing away after a long day at Emory, so I get to be the ghost-writer tonight!