Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is Michael's brain on...

...chemotherapy drugs.

Okay - bear with me while I try to explain the AWESOME news we got today. This is one of the images from Michael's MRI yesterday (one of over 1,600). If you draw an imaginary line from the top of the picture to the bottom, you visually divide the picture in half vertically. Near the center of the image horizontally and just left of center vertically, you will notice a circular spot that is lighter in contrast (it kind of looks like an eyeball to me but it's not) - this is actually the void left by the craniotomy in August of 2007. In other words, that is how large the tumor originally was (pretty big and scary huh?). It is my understanding that that space will always be there.

Now - near the top of that circle and adjacent to the right is a darker spot - that is all that is left of the tumor now. In previous MRI's, the whitish line across the top of this spot was curved upwards where the remaining tumor was pushing against the brain. As you can see - it is now almost perfectly straight! That is because the tumor has shrunk considerably!

To make it easier to understand - Jenny marked up a copy of the MRI image (below). The big red circle is the part of the tumor that was removed surgically and the smaller green circle if what is left.

Dr. Korones is thrilled and thinks Michael is doing "better than average". We know that we have been extremely lucky because:

1) Michael didn't suffer any neurological damage from the original surgery. Many kids have problems with memory and motor skills, Michael doesn't.

2) Michael hasn't been as sick as he could have been during chemo. We haven't had any big delays, he hasn't had to have any blood transfusions and there's been only one hospital stay in the last year. Dr. Korones said that many kids on this regimen can't finish because they get too sick but it looks like Michael is going to make it to the end.

3) The tumor is responding to the chemo drugs. We are seeing dramatic results and that has to been a sign of good things to come.

So, it looks like all of the positive thoughts and numerous prayers are working. We know everyone has been pulling for Michael and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Keep up the good work.

Sorry I left everyone hanging yesterday but I woke up in the morning covered in hives (which I have never had). I called my doctor's office and they suggested taking Benadryl. So, while Michael and Daddy spent the afternoon in the hotel pool - I was sound asleep in the room. I woke up long enough to get some dinner before going back to sleep. My doctor thinks the hives might be from stress (what stress?!?).

I was very proud of Michael yesterday. He got up early and spent a couple of hours in the pool. Then he laid down in the room and took a little nap until it was time to go to the hospital. He was very hungry but never complained. I took some snacks with us and before they put him under the anesthesia, he told me to be there when he woke up - with his snacks. Well, of course we were in the waiting room so he sent the nurse out to get his mother with his "Lunchable" -which he wolfed right down. Then we went back to the hotel and he swam for a couple of more hours before having a nice dinner and calling it a night.

Now we are home and happy to be here. It's back to school and work tomorrow. For some reason Jeff & I were both extra nervous this time around but I'm sure we'll sleep better tonight. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and prayers, JoAnne.

P.S. I asked Dr. Korones if he thought Dr. Pilcher (the neurosurgeon) would still want to do surgery to remove the remaining tumor and his response was "no". He said that he thought that Dr. Pilcher would think that there isn't enough tumor left to warrant the risks of surgery. More great news !


Susie Harris said...

Praise God!!!! YOu have just made my day. Michael has been on my heart all day. I am just sooooo happy for all of you! Way to go Michael!!! I know you probably have a smile from ear to ear. You so deserve it! Thanks for the update. I will keep praying for more to come~

Lisa said...

Oh simply wonderful news! I am so happy to hear this, and glad to know that all this is working. You are an amazing lady with a wonderful family who deserve a bit of goodness. Take care of yourself. Stress, nah, not any stress in your life now is there? Next time try a bath in some baking soda and/or ground oatmeal. That will help you relax and calm the itch a bit too. Take care and have a great weekend!

Jen Reed said...

Awesome!! I am SO glad to hear the great news! I can't wait until you guys come in so we can keep up the good work! Enjoy the rest of your break, though. I'll be thinking of you! :)

Anonymous said...

To Jeff, JoAnne, Brian, Jenny & Ralph, we are so happy and relieved for you all. To Michael, we love you!
Mary B, Ferd and Dory