Thursday, March 19, 2009

How About a Lenten Alleluia!!!!!

It is with great joy and relief that I report my tumor has shrunk 20% since the start of radiation / chemo. God is good! The doctors did not expect that there would be any shrinking this soon, but we did an MRI last week after my last treatments, and they all agree that it has a significant reduction already. My energy is already beginning to return to more normal levels, just in time for spring walks and softball. :) They expect that the tumor will continue to shrink over the course of the next year, and this will be the swan song for my Oligodendrogliomas. (3 years ago I never thought I would be able to pronounce that - much less spell it :)

I want to thank all of you who have been praying for Jen, Sarah and I from the bottom of my heart. I truly believe we would not have seen these results, and the relative smoothness of the 6 weeks of treatment without the incredible prayer support. Those of you who were able to financially support us in various ways - you have taken a significant worry out of our lives and we are forever grateful. And to two of our dearest friends Brian Mungo and Maureen Cousino who put together this site for us - you know how much you friendship means to us both, and your generosity will never be forgotten. We love you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Big Boy Fundraiser

If you're in the Ann Arbor area, stop in and have a meal at Big Boy to support the Thomms! You can click on the image below for all the info. Invite your friends and family!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Entering the final days (of treatment - not life :)

Just wanted to write a quick update and ask for increased prayer support. I now only have 6 treatments left, and am quite happy about that, but getting VERY fatigued, spacey, and a bit nauseous. Starting this morning the radiation treatments are a bit more intense and focused - plus a couple added angles and being implemented. We knew ahead of time that in the last week or two they would narrow the beam to be a bit more precise, but missed the fact that it would be more intense. Since I've already been feeling like my energy was going downhill fast in the last week, this added info was unwelcome. But for the best in the long-run of course.

Thank-you all again for your support and please keep the prayers coming for our family, as I am now pretty much no help to Jen for the next couple weeks. You are all great prayer warriors and I am forever indebted to you.

- Nick

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Half Way Done!!!

Well, I don't know how big my glass is, or whether it's half empty or half full - but I do know that I am half way done with treatment today!!! Now if I could just improve on the "half-energy" in the evenings. :)
Thanks again for all of your support and prayers. We are blessed.

- Nick

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Inside a Radiation Treatment

Welcome to my wonderful world of radiation treatment at St. Joseph Mercy hospital! Everyone there is FANTASTIC and it really has a family atmosphere. Every patient is there at the same time every day, so even among the patients there is a feeling of all being in it together. And some of the older patients have come to look forward to seeing Sarah come in each day. It's quite a joy for us to see her bring joy to the other patients. As you can see, the radiologists are very nice, compassionate, and even invited Jen and Sarah to come back one day and see what happens. Sarah was a bit unsure about the mask, but liked watching.

The basic gist of it is that they make a form-fitted mesh mask that they place on my face each day and strap it down to the table so that I can't move at all. Good idea I guess if I want them to radiate just the tumor and not other more important parts of my brain. Yea, yea - Insert joke here about how many parts of my brain could be evacuated without too much notice. :)

There are 5 different angles that they shoot the radiation from each day and the head of that machine over my head just rotates around and the whole thing takes about 5 minutes. They have marks on the mask and it's all computerized so that they hit the exact same places every day. Also, that way they don't have to put marks on my head, which was the case until just a few years ago. Pretty amazing.

So I am about a third of the way through the 30 radiation treatments, which are every morning at 9:00 M-F. At the same time, I am on a chemotherapy called Temodar, which is in pill form, and I take that every night - 7 days a week. The chemo basically makes the tumor more receptive to the radiation.

All-in-all, it's gone very well so far. Definitely fatigued in the late afternoon and especially evenings, but so far no appetite loss, headaches, skin irritation, etc. which they say should come at some point. Also, there's a cycle to it. I'm better on Mondays and more fatigued on Fridays, and they say that's normal and will continue, but each week my Monday "high" will be a bit lower and my Friday "low" will be a bit lower.

Jen has been a real hero. There is a significant burden on her with having to drive me everywhere while also picking up the slack at home with me feeling like doing nothing but sitting on the couch most of the time that I am at home. You couldn't ask for more love and selfless support from a spouse than Jen has given. And working at Ave Maria Radio - I could not ask for a more understanding and supportive environment and boss in Al Kresta.

Thank-you all for your prayers and support. It is no exaggeration to say that I can tangibly feel the prayer support of the Body of Christ. Please continue, because we will need it in the next 4 weeks.

God is good - All the time!

- Nick

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One week down...

Week one of radiation is done! Praise God! Thanks to your prayers and the antibiotics, Nick is recovering from the cold. It's hard to tell if the exhaustion was from the radiation or the cold, so I guess we'll wait to see.

Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Week One

Nick started radiation on Monday. His first couple days the appointment available was at lunch time, which was okay, but not exactly convenient. Thankfully, a couple days in, the 9 am slot opened up! Praise God! This means Jen and Sarah can take him to radiation and to work afterwards, without extra trips. God is good!!

Say a prayer though, Nick is down with a cold. It's not a huge deal, but since his immune system is compromised (and will be continually compromised throughout treatment), he really needs to rest and get over this cold quickly.

Thanks you for all of your prayers and support!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shaved and ready...

Today is the day Nick starts radiation! Let's be praying for successful treatment, mild side effects, and grace upon grace for all the Thomms!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another Update

We met with radiation and oncology this week and wanted to fill you in. We first met with the doctor who will be overseeing his radiation treatment. He is very personable and obviously competent. He gave Nick a brief exam, went over medical history, discussed logistics, side effects, etc. He was very good about answering all of our questions and never rushed us. Nick had a CT scan, then they fused that with the Dec. 1st MRI. This tells them how big of an area to hit and where. They marked the location on a specially molded mask that covers about 3/4 of Nick's head. He will wear this every time he goes in for a treatment.

Actual radiation treatments will last for about 2 minutes, but he'll be at the hospital M-F for half an hour each day. The first 4 weeks will be directed to a slightly larger area than the remaining tumor. The last 2 weeks of treatment will be concentrated on just the remaining part of the tumor. It works like an x-ray machine in the sense that once the machine is off, Nick is not conducting radioactive waves. So there is no reason for him to isolate himself in order to protect others.

The side effects are mostly what we anticipated. Fatigue is a certainty. The degree of which is hard to say until we're there, but it's good news that he's young and otherwise healthy. He should have an easier time and recover more quickly. The fatigue will be cummulative, meaning that he will be most tired near the end of the 6 weeks of treatment. The oncologist projects he'll be around 70% of his normal energy level. It will take 2-4 months after for him to regain all of his energy.

The oncologist also took a lot of time to answer questions, which is even more impressive since it was over the lunch hour, when they are typically closed. Nick will be on Temodar, the same chemotherapy drug he was on before, but at less than 1/2 the dose. This will be taken every day for 6 weeks. He believes that Nick will do very well with this treatment. he will have weekly bloodwork and meet with the oncologist every 3 weeks.

Radiation will have no affect on fertility. Chemotherapy, however, could have an affect, although it did not last time. We will not be able to attempt to conceive until late summer. There is a risk of birth defects while the chemo. is still in his system.

We did have some friends over to pray with us this week and much of what they said was a confirmation of what we've been feeling / experiencing all along. It's a huge blessing! They will come again once treatment has started and are available at the drop of a hat. God is good. God is faithful. And we are ready.

Love & prayers,Jen