Today is the first anniversary of Kevin's brain tumor removal surgery. It was a long year of treatment, care and recovery, but we've made it and things are looking pretty good. The doctors are thrilled the "hole in his head" is clear - meaning nothing is growing back. Short term memory glitches are not as evident since he started taking mandolin lessons back in Sept. The use of music is well-known as good therapy, and his determination, albeit a struggle, to learn to play seems to be rerouting his short term memory, as we can see a definite improvement. Exercise, too, is a primary factor and spending 1/2 an hour twice a day on the stationary bike and treadmill (15 minutes each) is bringing his strength back to an acceptable level.
Kevin is planning his Open House (although the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast isn't possible this year) and looking forward to doing more this summer than he was able to last year. He's been given the green light to get his driver's license back, but he has to begin the process all over again, including getting a permit before the license, just as if it were his first time. Given that he's turning 61 this year, he jokes that his age just reversed back to 16. So he still has his sense of humor, as well.
Keep watching the home page for news on the Open House, and plan to stop by to see all the exciting things happening at Houghtaling's Garage.
It's been awhile since we've posted anything on Kevin's health. This is a big week for him. Today hi finished his blood thinner shots. Also today he starts his last 5-day round of chemo pills. By Saturday we'll be celebrating the end of chemo treatments.
His visit to the doctors in Rochester last month was, once again, very positive. The oncologist told him the "hole in his head" looked very good. Kevin thought that hilarious and likes to tell that story.
The remains of the tumor have appeared to disappear and he's tolerated all phases of the treatment plan extremely well. His hair is now nearly grown back to "normal" and covers the surgical scar well. He's gain all the weight back he lost last winter (and then some!) and aside from some minor short term memory "glitches" and some fatigue and a bit slower reaction time, one would not suspect he's ever had a brain tumor. The one thing that has noticeably changed is how much more talkative he is. I call him "Chatty Cathy." He tells me he has a different outlook on life because he's survived a brain tumor and he wants to tell EVERYONE! So, ok, that's a good reason.
At any rate, he's still with us, and - with the Lord willing - will be for a long time to come.
Kevin started his second round of chemo this week and so far everything has been great. He suffers no ill effects at all, just the fatigue, as expected. Unless he has a doctor appointment, he is at the Garage every day, usually from 9 until noon, and is back by 2 to closing. The longer lunch break allows him to get in a power nap to fight the fatigue. He will also make several rounds a day around the equipment lot for the exercise that is also important in fighting the fatigue.
This chemo treatment is also by pill, like the last one, and consists of taking chemo pills 5 days, with a 23 day "rest" in-between treatments. The treatments will continue for 6 months, with trips to Rochester every other month for MRIs to monitor the treatment's effects on the residual tumor.
He will also meet with doctors at the end of this month to determine his eligibility to drive again. Since he has had no seizures since the initial one that was caused by the tumor, it looks promising that he will get his license back.
Whew! This marathon is half over. Kevin completed his first round of chemo last Monday, and his last radiation treatment was done five days later on Friday. He actually skated by with barely any side-effects. No sickness at all. The blood clot he got a couple of weeks ago is now gone, and the only other sign of his ordeal is the noticeable lack of hair on his right side. But it will grow back, doctors have assured us. At the end of April he'll be going back to Rochester for an MRI and start his second round of chemo, which will also be by pill at home, 5 days a week.
His afternoons spent at the Garage haven't proven to be such a good thing as now he's come down with a head cold, sniffles, stuffy head, achiness, and all. So he's opted to stay home and conserve his energy to fight the germs. Except he will need to go to town this afternoon to get the hair on the right side of his head trimmed - it's that long. Otherwise, look for him to be back at the Garage in a day or two!
Those of you who have checked the site to see how Kevin is doing, my apologies for my tardiness in posting.
Kevin is doing extremely well, and the radiation treatments have just 2 weeks left, ending on April 1. He is not side and shows only some slight fatique. After treatments every day we go to lunch, then do a bit of shopping before heading back home. I drop him off at the Garage and he's there for a while each afternoon. Sometimes he's there an hour or two, but if things are busy, he sticks around. He came home tonight to tell me there are those of you out there concerned because nothing has been posted. My bad.
We did have a minor set back two weekends ago when his left leg, ankle and foot swelled, accompanied by some pain. We took precautions and elevated his leg for most of the weekend, and when we saw the doctor in Rochester last Tues. a blood clot was discovered. He is taking shots twice a day for a month and already the swelling and pain is gone.
He attended the Open House both afternoons last week (Thurs. and Fri.) and talked to everyone there. (I tell him he should have his medical history on tape and save his voice.)
Anyway, for all you who read this, please know he is doing excellent in every respect and would love to talk to you. To catch him at the Garage, call in the late afternoon, and on Sat. after 10 a.m.
Well, we officially have one week completed with the chemo and radiation treatments and Kevin is absolutely amazed he feels so well. The anti-nausea pills are doing their job and he's been able to eat well without any problems. We do have to stick to a pretty strict eating schedule, but there are no dietary restrictions to speak of. He's even gained back 5 of the pounds he lost since November. The doctors assured him that 3 weeks or so into the treatments he will be losing his hair at the radiation site, and fatigue will set in. Actually, I can see him becoming a bit more fatigued as time goes by. Once we have the radiation treatment done for the day, get lunch, then pick up a few groceries (as we've decided to buy just a few items every day rather than a lot at once, because it is easier for me to get them into the house and put away without causing me to be wiped out), he has begun to doze on the way home, and definitely needs a nap before supper. Other than that, he's doing really great. He spend last Saturday at the Garage for a couple of hours, and will be there again on the 27th, so stop by the Garage and say Hi!
5 more weeks and counting for the radiation trips!
2 chemo and 2 radiation treatments completed, and so far, so good. No nausea or other side-effects, so far. Kevin hopes all the treatments go this smoothly. He doesn't seem to feel as fatigued, either, although only time will tell if anything changes. We stopped at the Garage today on our way home and he stayed quite a while to visit and take care of some business, although the crew seems to be handling things very well, anyway. It gives us great comfort to know we have such reliable and loyal employees. It makes this journey so much easier.
Chemo starts tonight in pill form and his first radiation treatment is tomorrow in Hornell at 11:45 a.m. Pray for decent roads.
It's the waiting game. We thought the chemo and radiation treatments would have begun by now, but we got a call on Friday telling us we'd get a call on Monday (today) to tell us the actual date of the first radiation treatment. The chemo pills arrived last week. Kevin will start taking one a day the night before his first radiation treatment in Hornell. If we get the snow tomorrow the reports have been threatening, his first radiation treatment may be postponed yest another day.
Kevin continues to gain strength on his left side and he's nearly back to normal. in that respect. One good sign - he's now "forgetting" where he left his cane last. I can relate! If he can walk away without thinking of taking it with him, that's telling me he's nearly ready to get rid of it. He gets on the treadmill for 10-15 minutes twice a day, walks a lot around the kitchen and is now feeling like going back to the Garage for a little while each day. We plan to stop in for an hour or so this afternoon.
Because the treatments are expected to take a lot of his energy, the crew at the Garage has made plans to forego the usual open house with pancakes and will instead hold a two-day Customer Appreciation Days event March 17 and 18 so customers can still get discount prices on parts and twine, etc. Farm Credit has generously agreed to sponsor the coffee and pastries over the two day period. If Kevin feels up to it, I'm sure he'll want to make an appearance during those two days. But it's still a month away for now, and we don't know to what extent the treatments will affect his energy. Keep sending your prayers to the Man Upstairs - I'm sure he's listening.
It's now been two weeks since his surgery.
This week we had consultations with both oncology doctors who will be overseeing the chemo and radiation treatments. While the treatments, themselves are considered aggressive, the doctors feel this is the best course of action to get Kevin well for the long-term.
Next week we will go to Hornell on Tuesday and Kevin will be fitted with a radiation mask. The mask will be designed to hold his head still so the radiation can target the residual tumor. The actual treatments begin the following week, with chemo pills at home and 15-30 minute radiation treatments in Hornell. The chemo will be 7 days a week for 42 days, with a "rest" period, followed by another round of daily chemo pills 5 days a week for another several months. The radiation treatments will be Monday through Friday for 6 weeks, with a total of 30 sessions. The treatments will cause him hair loss (he actually looks pretty good bald!), along with nausea, fatigue and loss of /changes in appetite. He will have pills to help combat the nausea.
There may be some other nuisance side-effects, but the cancer support system through URMC (University of Rochester Medical Center, which includes Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and St. James Mercy in Hornell), have been excellent in treating Kevin so far and we have every confidence he is in the best hands.
I spied a cookbook on cooking for cancer patients on the library bookcase at the oncology and radiation clinic in Hornell and was told I could keep the book. The book is very informative on what dishes to prepare to best provide his body with specific nutrients as his body's needs change throughout the entire procedure. I am also in charge of his medication time-table and exercise regimen, a very important aspect of how well he will tolerate the treatments.
He is gaining more strength again in his left side and has graduated to using a cane. For now his appetite is very good and each time we have spoken to doctors his spirits have been buoyed. It will be a long spring, and I hope the weather continues to cooperate for our travels.
Kevin will be going back to Rochester next Tuesday for another MRI and to Hornell next Wed. to meet with the doctor who will be overseeing his radiation treatments.
His treatments - I think - will start the following week and he'll go to Hornell every day, Mon - Fri, for 6 weeks, for a total of 30 radiation treatments. His chemo will be done by pill during the same period (only at home), plus will stretch out another 6 months after the radiation is completed.
All-in-all, he feels pretty good. He got his staples out yesterday and the doctors were pleased to see hair already growing back in the incision. Aside from some normal swelling on the right side of his head where the surgery took place, he is doing very well. He is experiencing some slight weakness on the left side (arm and leg), and is using a walker to guard against falling. Of course, when the body experiences trauma like major surgery, the energy focuses on the injured area and that leaves the rest of the body very tired for a period. While he does sleep a lot, compared to the normal person at this time, he does enjoy talking to people, so if anyone would like to say hello to him, give him a call around lunch time. Just please keep the call brief. Or better yet, pop him an email. He logs in to his email daily and does respond. Phone: 570-376-2821, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin was discharged yesterday and we are home.
His bandages are off and the surgical wound looks normal, which is good.
Brain tumors are not classified in "stages" like other kinds of cancer - they are classified in "grades" - as in low, medium or high. His is a medium grade, and he will have chemo and radiation beginning next week. We return to Rochester on Wed. to the Wilmont Cancer Center where they will remove his staples and give us a complete update on the pathology report on the tumor they removed. He will be taking chemo pills at home and have his radiation treatments in Hornell. His primary surgeon has an office in Big Flats and he will go there sometime in the future - I don't have that doctor appointment just yet.
He is resting well, sleeps a lot, but when he is awake he is much more talkative than he has been for the past year. There is some swelling still on his right side, and it causes his right eye to be nearly shut, although he can still see some out of it.
He finally felt like shaving after he got home, but he's not up for any company yet and is relishing the quiet at home, as it was very noisy in the hospital and he was unable to get much rest there.
Yesterday before we left the hospital, he was talking about going back to work this coming week. I told him that was not going to happen. Now that he's home, and moving around a bit more, he realizes he has a ways to go to get his strength back before sitting in an office chair for even a couple of hours. Baby steps.
All-in-all, I'd say he's doing very well considering the alternative.
He asked the doctor his opinion on the Cancer Centers of American and the doctor said Strong (which is a teaching hospital) trains the medical staff who work at those places and any new treatments are usually done first at either Strong or Mass General before being done at the Cancer Centers. This was comforting news, indeed.
Kevin is doing very well after surgery. He is eating, talking, and walking around a bit, but mostly sleeps. There is some slight swelling at his right temporal, but it has not obscured his vision so far. Already we have noticed an improvement since the tumor's removal as he is no longer experiencing some of the symptoms he had prior to surgery. He is at a level 2 recovery ICU and will perhaps be moved to a regular room on Thursday. He is on the 5th floor, at the 3600 unit. When he is moved to a regular room it will be in the same unit. The doctors expect he will be here until at least Sat. or Sun. if all continues to go well.
Thank you all for keeping him in your thoughts and prayers.
For those of you who have heard that Kevin is having some health issues, we want to keep you updated on the progress of his recovery. He will be posting regular updates to this page soon. I take pills every day and i feel fine . i have been working every day. . . the surgeon tells me he has done this operation over 1000 times and i will be fine the surgery date is the jan 19 Th i will be at strong memorial hospital 601 Elmwood avenue Rochester NY . 14642 for about a week . If you would like to send cards or what ever you can send to hospital or used the houghtaling's garage address . you are more than welcome to call the garage and talk with roger or mia on how i am doing Thanks for all your prayers and support Kevin