Thursday, June 28, 2007

Week's almost over!

Chrissy just called me a little while ago from the airport. She and Marianne finally landed. Their flight was delayed almost 3 hours because of bad weather on the East coast. She has had a very busy week in Las Vegas. They attended a lot of the conference and was able to catch a couple of events that were put on by the sponsors. One night they went to the Hard Rock Hotel and saw Bare Naked Ladies play poolside.

Things at home were very busy. Tyler in golf camp, Michael at Lacrosse camp each day made for a busy week! Last night (Wednesday) we went to the Frederick Keys game again, just the 4 of us. It wasn't as much fun without Chris there with us but we managed to get a foul ball and have dinner. We've eaten out every day since Chris left! Various menus!

Next week we are supposed to go to Ocean City to spend some time at the beach. We're waiting to hear from Chris's oncologist to see what she thinks Chris's next steps should be. AS soon as I find out I'll let you know.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hectic Few Days

This was a very hectic few days around here. Where to start....

Friday we spent the entire afternoon at Hopkins. Chris had her MRI and after a long wait we finally got to speak with the Dr. This is the Dr. that did the chemoembolization. He told us that the old tumors were in fact just scar tissue BUT that there were new tumors appearing again. NOT the news we wanted to hear, but as we've been doing this for awhile we were somewhat prepared. This Dr. is going to speak with our Oncologist to find out the best method of attack. He recommended that Chris repeat the procedure, but since she is in the clinical study that may not be a possibility. Or it may. We'll know later this week EXACTLY what we're doing. Sooooo..... again our summer is up in the air. We didn't get done until after 5pm so we just went to Fells Point and had dinner on the waterfront. The boys were home all afternoon and did great, as usual.

Chrissy did leave for Las Vegas on Saturday morning. I am so glad that she got a chance to go and get away for a couple of days. She has the address of several blood labs in Vegas so that she can go and get her Tuesday blood counts done. It will be a busy week for here while she's there but Marianne is there with her will help her out I'm sure.

Alex left on Thursday to go to NJ to visit with her boyfriend so that left you know who with me!!! The boys and I went out to get Michael a new lacrosse stick on Saturday. After stopping at several places he finally decided on one. We went to their favorite place for lunch, Panerra. We all had the same thing... bread bowl with soup! We were supposed to go to a pig roast later that night but the boys and I felt it best to go home. After being home for awhile we went out and had dinner in Frederick together. It was really nice getting a chance to be out with them. They too have been through so much and have helped us out so much that I sometimes lose sight of that. Thanks guys.

Sunday morning we got up a little early and went fishing. Yeah you heard right, FISHING. Tyler bought a new pole Saturday so I figured we should go try it out. We went and got some breakfast to go from Beans and Bagels and a very large coffee. Then we went up to Middletown park where there is a small pond to fish. Tyler and Michael fished and I sat in my new camping chair (father's day present) and read the paper with my coffee. We were there about 3 hours or so. Good time.

OH>>>> we took the dog with us. Not something we normally do but sure why not. Well I got up to take her for a walk in the park. She was walking along the edge of the pond and wanted to go to the other side. She saw a bunch of pond scum on the top where we were and thought she could just walk across it. She could not. We now know that she can swim! She came out and had algae and seeweed all over her!!!! A funny site.

Ray and Cheryl had the boys and I over for dinner last night. It was really nice to get together and sit and relax after a long weekend. Good friends!

On Friday we did get some unfortunate news from one of Chris's co-workers. Rosalyn's husband, Dane, passed away on Friday afternoon after a battle with cancer. Although we did not know Dane personally very well, we had met with him about 10 times or so over the last few years as both he and Chris were going to the same oncologist in Frederick for awhile. Each time we saw him we talked for a long time about many different things, and it was always a pleasure to see him. We were always glad when we walked in and saw him there. We even saw him at Johns Hopkins for awhile as he was also getting into a trial there. Each time we saw Dane he was always upbeat and positive. It really helped put our mind at ease sometimes when we were waiting in the waiting area. He always had a smile for us as well. He will certainly be remembered in our lives forever. Thank you Dane...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

1st week with no school...

Well this is the 1st week of summer and there is no school. So far so good. Things are getting done around the house. The shed is getting painted, the yard is getting picked up. It's kinda nice!

The boys are in Lacrosse camp each afternoon this week and that's keeping them busy too.

Alex is going to see her boyfriend in NJ today... hmph.

Chrissy had an employee resign late last week. The employee was supposed to attend a conference in Las Vegas next week so, after some coaxing, Chris decided to take her place and attend the conference! She hasn't been to Vegas in awhile so it will be a nice getaway for her. She is going with Marianne from COMSTAR as well so she won't be alone. She leaves Saturday and comes home next Thursday.

While she is there she will have to go to a lab to get bloodwork done. This is not bloodwork that needs to be used for research so she can go to any lab. It's a CBC, or complete blood count. We're hoping that the insurance company pays for it. They may not as it is "out of area". If not then we are hoping that Hopkins helps out somehow. We'll see. If not we will just pay it ourselves. I'm excited for her to go.

Tomorrow, Friday, we are going to Hopkins for an MRI and followup visit with the Dr. that did the chemoembolization. He's monitoring how stable the tumors in her liver are. There were still some in her left lobe that were not treated. They generally do 1 lobe at a time. I'll fill you in later.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday Treatment

Tuesday, Chris went to Hopkins for followup and chemo. We got there about 8:15. She had research blood drawn and then we met with the research nurse. They measured and reviewed the sites where the vaccine was given, 12 of them. The sites are red and swollen just like they are supposed to be. Everything looks good. They took another skin graft from the largest site. On her leg this time. That's the only part that really hurts and only when they give her a shot of lidocaine.

After that we waited for her lab work to come back for her blood counts. That seems to take forever sometimes. By 11:00 the chemo arrived and was administered. This was a small amount of chemo that arrived in a syringe. It was red and is called doxyrubicin. Also known as the red devil. There is a family support organization in MD that is named after this drug. They are called The Red Devils. Check them out here. It took all of 15 minutes to get the chemo and we were on our way.

On the way home I treated Chris to a reuben sandwich at the best place in Baltimore called Attman's. Been there since 1927! It was terrific. You have to go there. After that we went home for some rest.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Week's Finally Over

Well it was a very busy and tiring week. I drove Chris for bloodwork on Wednesday. She took herself on Thursday. Friday we both went and they measured her vaccine injection sites and took a skin biopsy of the largest one. That's sort of painful as they have to numb her up first and then gouge out a piece of skin about 1/2 the size of a pencil eraser.

Saturday was nice. We drove out to Baltimore around 8:15 and first went to a small French Bakery in Fells Point for coffee and breakfast. Bonaparte's was the name of it and it's right on the water. Thanks for the the suggestion Randy! While we were there there was someone in line right behind us. It was the Dr. that did Chris's Chemoembolization 2 months ago! Small world. After breakfast we shot up to Hopkins for another blood draw.

Friday night was the end of the year picnic for the Spires Lacrosse Club. I'm on the board of the club and the boys play in the club. if you would like to know more about us. We had about 300 people show up for the picnic. Capping off a very succesful year for all teams.

Last night, Saturday, we went to the Frederick Keys minor league baseball game. Great game as they won in 10 innings. Fireworks after the game and over 8800 people. The most people all season. The weather was great and Chris really enjoys going. It was an early start to Father's day.

Oh, today is Father's day. We cut the grass and did some yard work. Just taking it easy. We're planning on eating early and going to an outdoor concert in Frederick with some band that plays classic rock! I'm into that I guess.

I thought I'd share this wonderful picture of Alex. She went camping with us last weekend and as you can see she was having a wonderful time!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Latest Email Message

Dear Friends and Family,

Chris officially began the clinical trial on Monday this week. She’s been working so hard to get into a position where she is eligible for it. That’s why she had the chemoembolization a couple months back. It was very successful. I’ve been trying to keep my blog updated as best I can but thought that I would put a brief email together for those that don’t get a chance to check it out very often. The trial is already taking its toll on us. It’s very tiring going to Baltimore each day but we know that it is worth it and that keeps us moving!

Here is a link that explains a little bit about exactly what the trial is and what it’s trying to accomplish.

Chris had chemo (Cyclophosphamide)on Monday. Tuesday she had a series of 12 vaccine injections (4 in each thigh, 4 in one arm). This is the vaccine that is being created and tested to see if it aids the body in fighting off the cancer cells. The vaccines hurt while being administered but Chris tolerated it pretty well. Wednesday was a quick trip to Hopkins for a blood draw. This draw goes to the research group for analysis and must be done there. Today will be another trip for the same thing. Friday will be a blood draw along with some skin biopsies to see what the reaction is to the vaccine. Oh yeah, and Saturday is another blood draw… 6 days to the hospital.

Next week is another chemo treatment (Doxorubicin) on Tuesday. It’s a different treatment than last Monday and is used in conjunction with the chemo to help kill the cells while the vaccine works it’s magic in helping the body fight off the disease on it own. As we all know the body can fight off some really mean diseases. Sometimes it just needs a little help! The following week (26th) is a blood draw but we can do it locally as they are just getting the blood counts. The following week (3rd) is the same thing. On the 11th of July we’ll meet with her oncologist and determine the next start date. Then do it all over again.

As you can see this has put a real damper on our summer! We were planning a vacation trip somewhere out of the country this summer with the kids, but Chris’s oncologist recommended that we not leave the country. Also, we only have a couple of weeks to squeeze things in. The 2 blood draws for counts can be done anywhere in the country so that helps. We’ve learned to cope with schedules the last 3 years and know that everything takes a backseat to Chris’s treatment. Everything has been okay so far and the kids have really been helpful as well.

I can’t begin to express our gratitude to everyone for all their support, prayers, dinners, donations, candy, house cleanings, and emails The list goes on and on. It really, really, does help us out. Rest assured that we are doing okay right now and will continue to stay the course. This August will be 3 years. Hard to believe. Thank you so much for the love and support. We can’t do this without your help.

Frederick, MD

P.S. As an update, I wanted to thank everyone who made a donation to the Avon Breast Cancer Walk this year. Our good friend and neighbor, Cheryl, raised over $3,000 this year. Her other teammates did equally as well. This year the DC walk raised over $7.4 Million! $1 Million was immediately granted to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Research Program at Johns Hopkins. The very same center that Chris has been going to for a year now. We were there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and watched the participants cross the finish line. NOTHING can express the feeling that comes across knowing that so many people care enough to do this. Thank you again to everyone. Click to see what’s being raised and where it’s going.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vaccine Given

Today was the day we went back to Hopkins for Chris to receive the experimental vaccine. It went well. She received 12 injections! 4 in her arm, 4 on each thigh. The area was numbed up with some cream ahead of time but it didn't help a whole lot. The vaccine is given just under the skin and it hurts. She's okay now though. Tomorrow is blood work at Hopkins as is Thursday.

We went to the Frederick Keys baseball game last night. COMSTAR sponsored military night there. Here is a picture of Alex, on the right, (who works for COMSTAR) at the table. Also on the left is Chris's new intern, Jessica ( I think).

NO that's not ME in the middle. It's Keyote! (Don't ask...)

Monday, June 11, 2007


This past weekend our family hooked up with Chrissy's parents and brothers and sisters at a local KOA campground for the weekend!

We all had a really good time. The kids especially. We had cabins, tents, and an RV for all of us. We cooked around the campfire and roasted marshmallows. Chrissy especially was looking forward to this as we haven't been camping in a few years now. This was not really roughing it by any means but still we had a very good time! We're already looking forward to next year to do it again.

OH YEAH>>> Since this was a KOA the usually try and do special things for the campers. Well Saturday night we were all sitting down to eat when an Elvis impersonator gave the whole place a great show. Really fun!

This is the ELVIS impersonator who entertained us!!

And this is my leg when an errent horseshoe wacked it!!!!

The Trial Begins!

Well after about 10 months of hard work Chris began her clinical trial today. Today she received her 1st chemo treatment which will be followed by a specialized vaccine tomorrow. Today it took a very long time to get everything straightened out. The IV nurse had orders that there must have been a full blood count in the last 7 days, but she had nothing in the system with the numbers in it. Chris did have a CBC in mid may. After a couple of hours she finally got a hold of Dr. Emens who approved using the older numbers. After that the drugs were given. 30 minutes of drip time for the Chemo and 3.5 hours of hassle. It will work better in the future for sure!

This regiment works as follows:

Day 1 chemo
Day 2 vaccine
Day 3 Blood draw
Day 4 Blood draw
Day 5 Blood draw
Day 6 Blood draw

Day 9 different chemo given
Day 16 Blood draw
Day 23 Blood draw

Then for the next 2 weeks we go for various followups with the doctor and prepare to go back to Day 1 to start another round...

Needless to say there will be some miles racking up on the cars in the coming months as we head off to John's Hopkins on a regular basis!!!

Wish us well!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Can't Sleep

Well it's Monday! 4:00 AM on Monday to be exact. Another one of those sleepless nights for me. Every so often I wake up and can't get back to sleep. I hear all the others in bed sleeping, Chris, Ramsey, and Chloe, but not me. Yes it's rather crowded in the bed nowadays!

Tuesday is the day that Chris goes to the hospital for her skin biopsy. Part of the trial and then Thursday for lots of blood. Next Monday chemo starts and the 4-6 week cycle begins. Things are going to get pretty hectic around here for sure. It will be nice that school is out soon and that Alex is home too.

This weekend we went out to Annapolis to some good friends of ours who were having a graduation party. There son just graduated from high school and is now going off to college. We know what they are going through! There were a lot of friends there but I have to tell you about some very special ones that I had the pleasure to speak with. Jim's Mom was there, along with Glen's Dad, and Maria's Mother and Father. I don't know exact ages but I'm quite certain all of them are in their late 70's or more. Everyone looked wonderful and I had the chance to speak with each of them. It was just enlightening to see them and be with them for that time. I've known Maria's mom for almost 20 years! I knew her Mom before I knew Maria. Her mom worked for a company that our friends Rich and Sumo (don't ask) worked for, so I met her there.

She and I talked for quite awhile about Chris and my family. She prays for us quite a bit and has been doing so for a long time. I told her that it was working and to keep up the good work! Thanks Helen!