Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where we're at

Got an update with Dr. Neel today. Mike's breathing is a lot better and things are looking good. He kind of feels like we're at the beginning again with the chemo situation since it's been a month since he's had treatment and two months since he had scans. So he ordered some new scans for sometime in the next couple weeks and we'll go from there.

Mike will also be getting a new port in a couple weeks. Turns out the one they removed in the hospital wasn't even infected after all... grrr. But better safe than sorry, I guess.

I think it's good that Mike will be getting a longer break from chemo so he can get some of his strength back. Although this is a picture from the day after he got out of the hospital, so I'd say he's doing OK.

(Hi Marina! We miss you!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dear Michael

Please stop apologizing to me. You say you are sorry that you are putting me through this. You say I shouldn't have married an older man. You say I am too young to have to deal with cancer. You say my 30s should be carefree.

I say that's hogwash.

That whole sickness and health thing was no joke. I even wore a white dress. I meant business. I wish with all my might that we didn't have the sickness part, but not for one single solitary second have I wished I had done things differently. (
Well maybe that one time after you dumped the bowl of cereal on the freshly washed dishes . . .)

You are the best part of me. You are the calm to my chaos, the laid-back to my high-strung, the funny to my serious. I still carry in my purse the printout of an email you sent me in 2002. It says: cas, here's the deal, i love you more than 100 butterfinger blizzards...

If not for you, old man, I would never have left my comfort zone, like when you handed me a plane ticket and said "Here, we're going to Florida," even though I was terrified to fly. I would never have visited beautiful places like the cliff walks in Newport and that beach in Cape Cod. Remember? I would never have had the nerve to take a career risk like moving to South Carolina. You said, go for it. Climb. Seize the opportunity. Even at the risk of your own career. I wouldn't have gone back to school, because it was you who convinced me that you really need
to love what you do. Otherwise, it's not worth it, right? I would never have learned how to eat peel and eat shrimp or crack crab legs if not for your crustacean camp. I would never have developed an appreciation for old movies, Pearl Jam or Bailey's on the rocks. I would still be eating at chain restaurants, for goodness sakes. And most of all, if not for you, I wouldn't have this tiny little person, this Stooge-loving bundle of bliss who has my attitude and your sense of humor.

So, are we clear?


Monday, April 19, 2010

Home at last

Just a quick note to say Mike is home. He was set free late Friday night. The conclusion is that all this was a result of the chemo. We're not sure how much more of that he can take. Or maybe he just needs a break. We'll be talking to his doctors in a week or so to see where they want to go from here.

Anyway, he's feeling better now and I'm so happy to have him home.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Still there

Mike is still in the hospital, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed he'll be home tonight or tomorrow.

He had to have his port removed yesterday because he's had a fever, which meant an infection, and they couldn't find out where it was coming from. They suspected the port so they took the sucker out. He'll have to get another one put in on another day. His fever has gone down, so maybe they were right.

Now back to the reason he went to the hospital in the first place. He had to have his lungs drained this morning. They removed a pint of fluid. What is happening, the doctors tell us, is that the chemo he is on causes protein to build up in the kidneys and when there's too much, it spills out into the body, including into the lungs. They're giving him medicine to reduce the fluid and hopefully the draining will help.

Poor Marina, who is here visiting, is stuck running back and forth to the hospital and babysitting Julia instead of laying on the beach.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hospital, Take 2

Mike is back in the hospital. He was having trouble breathing yesterday, yet was insisting on going to work. That's Mike for ya. I talked him into calling the doctor and sure enough, he was admitted later that afternoon.

Basically, they want to run a lot of tests to rule out such things as, oh, a heart attack. They say that's highly unlikely. They also want to make sure it's not a blood clot. He's actually in the hospital's heart center instead of on the cancer floor, which is a good thing because I'm not sure I could take another moment there after the 18 days earlier this year.

Some tests were done last night. Another one this morning. We're waiting around a lot and seeing a bunch of different doctors -- the oncologist, an internist, a nephrologist and a cardiologist. One doctor thinks he has pneumonia. So they're giving him antibiotics. Dr. Neel thinks he should be able to come home tomorrow. We'll see....

One thing I was worried about, because Mike hadn't been feeling good for several days and because the doctor was concerned about his liver enzymes, was that the cancer had spread and was starting to affect organ function in his lungs and liver. Dr. Neel tells me that's unlikely. I'm going to take his word for it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two years later

This month marks two years since cancer came into our lives. And for the first time in a long time, we are really feeling the presence of this nasty disease. We had a really good year last year. The tumors were shrinking, Mike was relatively symptom free and even able to go off chemo for several months.

The new year brought a harsh reminder that cancer catches up to you. Mike spent 18 days in the hospital and has never fully bounced back. Yes, he's working and moving around and eating and gaining weight and getting back to a routine. But he's not himself. He doesn't feel good a lot of the time. Two years of pumping toxic chemicals into the body takes its toll. His blood pressure is out of whack, his nose runs all the time, he gets headaches and backaches, he can't sleep.

In the same breath I have to say that Mike is still very strong. He puts in a good 50 hours at the office each week. He takes care of Julia. He makes me laugh. I'm not sure how he does it. The prognosis for carcinoma of unknown primary is in months. And here we are, two years later.

I am grateful for every second.

But is it selfish for me to want more?

Friday, April 9, 2010


The Casales spent Easter weekend with us.
We colored eggs.

We went on an Easter egg hunt.

We got baskets.

And we snuggled on the couch.

Good times.