The Starfish Project

The combined effort of our whole family.

Update on Mom (12/16/08)

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Well, we’ve had a whirlwind couple of days – but, things have calmed down enough for me to sit down and update you all.  As you know, Mom had an MRI on Friday (12/12/08) of her brain at the recommendation of her neurologist, Dr. Kumar.  He felt pretty certain there was metastic activity in her brain based on the type of issues whe was experiencing in her left arm and leg.

So, on Friday morning Mom went to the lab and had a blood draw and then at 12:30 PM she had an open MRI of her brain.  Since she had such a tough time with the brain MRI back in August, we pushed for an open MRI and the neurologist gave her a prescription for one Valium to help with any anxiety.  She did really, really well with it and the MRI tech at SimonMed was really wonderful – allowing Dad to be back there with her to hold her hand.

She felt great when she came out and we went home to wait for the results.  We were only home about an hour and 20 minutes before the neurologist called to tell us that the MRI confirmed his suspicions.  Mom has a 2 cm brain lesion in the right upper part of her brain that’s putting pressure on the part of her brain that controls her left side motor functions.  He told us that we needed to get her started on Decatron (a steriod) right away to relieve the pressure on her brain.  He said the best place for Mom to be was in the hospital.  So, we got Mom’s things together and took  her to Banner Baywood Hospital around 4:00 PM.

The people at the hospital were all very nice and took excellent care of Mom.  Dr. Kumar was consulted by the ER doctor and she was started on the Decatron.  They gave it to her through her IV line with a push.  Within an hour or so of receiving it, she was already able to lift her left leg up and down.  I guess it works pretty quickly to relieve inflammation – so we saw results with it right away.

Mom consulted with an oncologist while we were there and he was a little irritated that she was seeing a naturopathic doctor.  He couldn’t sell his full brain radiation to Mom because we had already done the preliminary research on Gamma Knife radiation.  So, he agreed to give her a referral for that – which is done in Phoenix at the Barrows Neurological Institute.

Mom was discharged Sunday afternoon.  The Decatron has continued to relieve inflammation and each day since Friday she’s had more and more movement return to her left side.

We are now in the process of getting her set up for a consultation with Barrows Neurological Institute.  Currently, they are reviewing her records to determine if she’s a good candidate for the Gamme Knife radio surgery.  This is a non-invasive procedure that shoots a highly targeted beam of radiation into the lesion.  The surrounding healthy tissue is unaffected and there are none of the typical side-effects of radiation.  There is no hair loss, no fatigue, no burns, etc. 

From all the research I’ve done and from talking to Mom’s naturopathic doctor, there aren’t any alternative treatments we can do that will work quickly enough to reduce the inflammation on her brain.  Time is of the essence with this situation because we need to get that inflammation down so she can get her movement restored.  The longer the tumor presses on her brain, the more chance for permanent damage to her left side.

From everything I’ve read, Mom seems like the perfect candidate for the Gamma Knife radio surgery.  The best outcomes occur with patients who have brain metastasis that are under 3 cm in size.  Mom’s met is only 2 cm – and Dr. Porter told us yesterday that with all the steriods she’s been taking to reduce inflammation, it’s likely to be even smaller now (not that it’s shrunk – but, that it was likely swollen.  And, with the swelling reduced, the size will be reduced).  Gamma Knife radio surgery has a 90% success rate in tumor control – which is very exciting to us.

Mom is in great spirits.  She hasn’t lost her sense of humor and she and Dad laugh a lot together.  Dad has been a real pillar for her and he’s the best kind of husband any woman could ever hope for.  We have a day off from doctor appointments today – so, we’re all trying to rest up and catch our breath.  She sees Dr. Porter tomorrow for another high dose Vitamin C IV, and she sees her neurologist, Dr. Kumar, on Thursday for a follow-up.  We expect to hear back from Barrows Neurological Institute by the end of the week for Mom’s first step toward her Gamma Knife radio surgery.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and positive thoughts.  We can certainly feel it.  Things seem to just fall into place for us as we continue along this journey.  God is good and we know this part of the road will be just one part of Mom’s story.  This is the part of the story where the protagonist is up in a tree and the antagonist is throwing rocks.  Mom is doing a great job of dodging the rocks.  🙂

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Written by Tracey

December 16, 2008 at 1:26 pm

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