Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Final Round - A Video Blog

Everything in me wants to believe that this was Steve's final round of chemotherapy.  Make no mistake, we want nothing more than to rest in the hope that this is the end of the most difficult, painful, and scary trial of our lives.  Steve will now transition to "maintenance therapy" as opposed to "chemotherapy."  In short, Steve's not off the hook yet. 

In two months he will begin receiving Rituxin only instead of the Rituxin plus the Chemo meds.  Over the next 2 years he will get a total of 12 doses of Rituxin, a mono-clonal antibody that attacks and wipes out the B-cells, to help prevent against any resurgence of lymphoma cancer cells growing in his body.  Steve will continue to receive the Rituxin through his port.  In essence, it is the same process of receiving the chemo-meds -- if you ask some oncologists they will tell you that it is still a form of chemotherapy. 

I thought it might be interesting to post some videos of Steve's chemotherapy.  Before Steve was diagnosed with Lymphoma, I really had no idea of what it was like for someone to get chemotherapy.  I hope that by posting these videos, viewers might not only learn more about chemotherapy, but they will also gain an appreciation for all that cancer patients go through, week after week...fighting, battling, and waging war against an unseen enemy that has invaded their bodies against their will.

The video doesn't show the needle that goes into Steve's port very well.  Here is a close up of the needle.  It is about an inch long and is as thick as a quilt needle.  Each time he goes in for chemotherapy, gets a blood draw, or receives hydration, his port has to be accessed.  I think folks might think that accessing a port is a pain-free process.  It is not.  The port makes it easier, but does not make it pain-free.  This is not a needle for wimps!  They don't call cancer patients "survivors" for nothing!  They are true warriors!

Here is a close up of Steve's port.  You can see the round port under the scar.  It sticks out about an inch from his chest.

This first video shows a nurse accessing Steve's port to prepare him for chemotherapy.  It shows her flushing the port with saline and then drawing blood.  The blood is tested in the lab to see if Steve's white blood cell count is high enough to receive the chemo.  On this day, his count was 4.5; just below normal range but high enough for chemo.

After running labs on his blood work, Steve meets with Dr. Liao for a quick check up.  Dr. Liao shares the results of the blood work and notifies us that Steve is clear for chemo.

Steve then goes back to the chemo room, finds a comfy leather recliner and sets himself up for a long day of chemo.  Here is a video of the chemo can see that it is a bustling place!  No shortage of cancer patients to treat, that is for sure!

The nurse then comes in and hooks him up to the pre-meds.  Since his port has already been accessed, he does not need to be stuck again.  She simply attaches the meds to the tubes that go into his port.  This is the same process that is done for each of the 3 chemo drugs he receives.  As you can see from the video, Steve is comfortable throughout this process and is able to carry on with conversations.  The pre-meds contain anti-nausea medication, Benedryl, and Prednisone. 

This process is repeated for each of the bags of chemo.  When one bag is emptied, another is connected.  After about 7 hours, his chemotherapy is done.  Steve likes to sleep throughout his chemo, so most of the time he looks like this..

After the chemo is finished, the nurse comes to de-port him, so to speak.  This is a relatively quick and painless process.  Much easier than the intial poke!

Two days after chemotherapy, Steve recieves a bag of fluids to prevent dehydration.  The fluids also contain anti-nausea medication to help him feel better through the chemo.  I did not get a video of him getting hooked up to the fluids, but it is the same process that is used when he gets the chemotherapy.  The needle is inserted to his port and then they hook him up to the bag of fluids. 

Here is a video of him getting de-ported and then receiving the first of a series of the Neupogen injections.  The Neupogen injections help him grow new white blood cells in his bone marrow.  Since the chemotherapy kills both the good and bad cells, the Neupogen helps him rebuild lost white blood cells so that his body will be able to fight infection during the treatment.  Steve usually gets 4 shots of Neupogen in the week following chemotherapy.

Steve has continued to prove himself to be a real fighter during these past 6 months.  Even on his lowest days, he has not missed one workout.  He has been eating healthy and staying spiritually strong by praying and reading the Bible everyday.  As you can see, he is a real champion!

Next week we will be going to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for a PET Scan coupled with a CT-Scan.  The scans will check to see if Steve has any more cancer in his body.  As I mentioned in my earlier blog, if any cancer is detected, he will receive another 6 months of chemo with a stem-cell transplantation. That is why we are praying and believing for a clean bill of health. Please partner with us to pray and believe for no cancer to be detected in the scans and for all cancer to be eliminated from his body.  Thank you, team Fox!

Jeremiah 33:6 'Behold, I will bring health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.


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