Friday, December 12, 2008

Survey Says......

*ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!* It's a WINNER!!!!!

Dr. O'Reilly was "very pleased" with the results of Dad's scans. Despite the fact that adenocarcinoma is a chemo-resistant cancer, Dad has proven that he's a super-hero once again. He and the chemo have arrested the development of the disease - stopped it in its tracks, really - and even caused it to back up a bit. And all in only 9 weeks. I am totally in awe of him.

Basically, the scans showed no new cancer growth and his Ca 19-9 marker, which is the marker for pancreatic cancer, is down by more than 50 percent from its pre-treatment levels. The largest lesions are a little bit smaller and the small lesions haven't grown at all. His lungs are clear.

These are all HUGE wins for us. We're so happy!

We've got good momentum going right now, so we're going to keep it up and jump right into another course of chemo. Dad starts up again next week. This time we're going to do 4 sets instead of 3, again doing two weeks on and one week off, and we'll have another set of scans 12 weeks from now. I have high hopes that we'll see further regression after the next round, and maybe we'll get the main lesion to drop back enough that it becomes operable. That would be incredible!

After the appointment, Mom, Dad and I did something we haven't done in a very long time. We hung out. We went to St. Patrick's Cathedral and gave some heartfelt thanks and checked out the gorgeous Nativity scene:

and the Christmas wreaths:

Then we went to Rockefeller Center and visited with the Christmas Tree (it's very big and very pretty):

We watched the ice skaters slip and slide all around the rink (it's very small - much smaller than it looks on television):

We peeked at some of the department store window displays (much better this year than last), and then we went out for lunch.

I haven't gone out for lunch with Dad in MONTHS, and I have to say, although I've eaten in some pretty amazing restaurants, no meal has ever tasted better or been more enjoyable than the meal I shared with my parents today.
As soon as we finished lunch, I sent Mom and Dad home and headed back to my apartment. I was so excited to log on and share the good news with all of you! We have been so blessed with the support we have received - I know it has made a difference in our ability to march forward with this battle, so let me take this moment to say again to every person reading and praying and thinking good thoughts for us - THANK YOU. We could not be doing this alone. May you all feel as blessed this holiday season and throughout the coming year as we feel today.
Peace to you all, and Happy Holidays too!

It's Results Day!!!

I'm not excited or anything... although I did wake up, jump out of bed, plug in the coffee pot, turn on the shower and then notice that...

the dogs were sound asleep instead of staring hopefully at their food bowls...

the cats were were playing Kitty-Wrestlemania instead of snoozing on their kitty tower...

the windows of the apartments around my own were still pitch black...

and I realized that it was 1:00 AM and I was 5 hours early for the start of the day.

But I'm not excited or anything. Nope. Not at all.

I've gotten lots of e-mails extending good wishes. Thank you so much - I'll pass them on to Dad when I see him in a couple of hours!



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Scan is Done!

Now it's time to:

think your good thoughts,

say your prayers,

rub your lucky Buddhas,

tap your doorframes,

click your heels,

wear your rally hats,

shake your voo-doo beads and

do whatever else you do to channel good results.

All Eyes are on Friday at 10:45 AM EST!!!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Holidays from Team Oberle!

We've finished our third set of chemo (I say, as though we're all popping the nasty little pills together), and overall Dad has tolerated the treatments remarkably well. He's had very little nausea, primarily because he has been vigilant about keeping food in his stomach, even when he hasn't felt like eating. Back in October, I looked up chemo nausea and found that chemo-related nausea strikes people as follows:

1. Young people get more nausea than older people. (What is the definition of "older"? That's anybody's guess. Now that I'm cruising down the south side of 35 and 40 is looming large in my sights, I'm going to draw the line at 65)

2. Women get more nauseous than men. (good news for Dad)

3. People with a history of motion sickness are more likely to have nausea. (again - score for Dad)

4. People who have previously had chemo are more likely to have nausea. (Dad's a chemo-virgin, so that cuts in his favor)

5. Non-drinkers of alcohol are more likely to have nausea. (I think we're all good here)

So I was pretty confident that Dad wouldn't spend his course of treatment with his head down the toilet, but it's been nice to have the reality comport to the statistics.

Chemo side effects are cumulative, so he was definitely feeling the drag of the toxins by the end of the set. Actually, he seemed more beat up over Thanksgiving, which was a tough holiday (it's kind of hard to get into a "feast" day when you can't eat properly), than he was this past weekend (when he was carrying Anna Lee around the house on his shoulders, even though she weighs almost 40 lbs!!!).

Although nights out usually cost him dearly in terms of recuperation time the following day, this past weekend he partied on Saturday night and seemed little worse the wear for it on Sunday. Mom was worried that he was quiet at the start of the evening on Saturday. She feared he wasn't feeling well, but I think his mood was more to do with me than with chemo.

We were all heading to a party, and after Mom and Dad locked up the house and pulled away, I decided I needed one more thing from the kitchen, so I used my handy-dandy house key to let myself back in. It took a few seconds for my pregnancy-addled brain to process the piercing beep-beep-beep that accompanied my opening the door, but then it hit me - "Holy @$#%! They set the ALARM!"

I tried not to panic. Mom has told me the code at least fifteen (million) times. I found the key pad, popped it open and with shaking fingers proceeded to key in... my ATM code. It didn't work. This seemed to irritate the alarm and the beeping got more insistent. I panicked and jabbed at the keypad again, but (not surprisingly) Dan's ATM code didn't work either. Neither did any of the other number combinations that flashed through my mind, which included: my birthday, our home phone number, my social security number and my old high-school locker combination. Time ran out and the evening air was rent by the deafening shrieks of the alarm.

"I am in SO MUCH TROUBLE," I thought as I clapped my hands over my ears and raced around the house in search of a phone with which to call Mom. I planned to get the code from her and set all to rights without Dad ever finding out that I tripped the alarm. I hit three cordless phone charging stations, none of which had phones on them. Where was the phone?!?!? I found one under the dining room table (random) and picked it up just as the security company called.

"I'm not a robber," I screamed. "I'm their daughter. I thought I knew the code but I don't and..." then the phone, which had probably been off the charger all day, went dead.

"I'm going to jail," I thought as I raced outside to where Dan and Anna Lee were all buckled into the car. I grabbed my cell phone and called Mom. Dad answered.

"Damn!" I gulped over the same pit I used to get in my stomach when I was a teen, as though he was going to ground me or take away my telephone or something.

"I'm coming home!" he declared, and I had the mental picture of him doing a Dukes of Haazard-style fish-tailing U-turn in the middle of Phalanx Road.

I raced back inside, put the dead phone on a charger and found a working one, by which time Dad and Mom were back in the driveway. Mom was on the phone with the security company, trying to vouch for me (not an easy thing to do). Dad tore into the house and disarmed the alarm. The sudden silence was dizzying.

Dad turned to me. "I can't believe you didn't remember the code was..." and then he proceeded to rattle off a combination that he and Mom started using ten years after I moved out of the house. Thanks, Dad.

Never one to miss the opportunity to teach, he had me set and disarm the alarm twice before he would let me join my family in my car. I am now confident that I know the code, but just in case, I hereby vow that I will never key myself into their house again.

Mom was *still* on the phone when they pulled out of the driveway for the second time, and as Dan put the car into gear and started to follow them, we heard an unfamiliar phone ring.

'What is that?" Dan asked.

I dug into my pocket and withdrew... Mom and Dad's cordless phone.

"He's gonna kill me," I said.

"Probably," Dan replied, "but you're not going back to put it away. It's coming with us to the party."

And it did.

Sunday we celebrated Anna Lee's third birthday and the end of this round of chemo. Dad seemed to be feeling very well, and he was kind enough not to make a single mention of the alarm debacle all day long. Maybe he's getting mellow. Nah.

As I sat with him in the kitchen, I took a moment to marvel at how well he has tolerated his treatments. He hasn't gone bald, and I have to admit that at the start of this process, I steeled myself for him to look like:



His hairline got a little thinner on the sides, but frankly I have peers who have less hair and who are a lot more gray. It's getting harder and harder to convince people that Dad doesn't color his hair and he doesn't wear a piece. Perhaps he is part elf. I don't know, but he's looking very good.

Tomorrow (12/9) is the big CAT scan, and we'll get the results on Friday. I am confident that we are going to have a positive result. Even though Dad has suffered these past three months, we've seen a transition from him feeling cancer symptoms to him feeling chemo symptoms. I think this means he and the chemo are getting the edge on the cancer.

I'll be with Mom and Dad at the hospital on Friday, and will update the blog when we have news. In the meantime, please keep sending good thoughts and prayers our way - they're helping!!!