Another C Word.. Captain!
31 October 2014 | Annapolis, Maryland
Last week, in the middle of all our health drama, Bill’s Captain’s License came in the mail. He worked hard for this thing, pictured above, and I have to tell you it was a major pain in the neck. But he has the license now and even though he never has intended to actually use it commercially, it is good to have it.
Since we've been home from Seattle we've had a different doctor’s appointment or some sort of medical test every day. I am now an expert on which parking garage to use for each building at the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Because Bill’s leg surgery was scheduled for yesterday he had to stop taking Advil seven days before that. For Bill Advil is a miracle drug. It’s anti-inflammatory abilities are incredible. I saw a man, who just a few days earlier climbed a 1,300 foot peak on Mount Rainier while taking Advil every four hours, not even be able to stand up without it, the pain was that bad. His doctors put him on the strongest, most addictive painkillers you can buy and Bill was taking the top amount you could put in your body. It hardly helped at all. The only way we could manage to get Bill to all his appointments was to find a wheelchair at the hospital and wheel him there. We learned that I drive a boat much better than I drive a wheelchair.
All those tests gave us a lot of information though and have completely changed our plan of action. Bill had a brain MRI which, thankfully, was completely clear. That means the melanoma has not gotten to his brain. The CT scan and biopsy on his lung found that the lump there is definitely melanoma but he also has some more tiny lumps on both lungs. It seems odd that they would be so much smaller if they were melanoma too, but that is the assumption. The most significant test, a test they did on the sample of the original biopsy he had on his leg, indicated that his melanoma has what is known as a BRAF mutation. That means they can now target the melanoma cells with specific drugs.
We went to our Annapolis Oncologist to get the results of all the tests and to tell her we wanted to work with the melanoma specialist at Johns Hopkins instead and before we could tell her she said she wanted us to work with the Johns Hopkins doctor too. So now we have the best of both worlds. We have the benefit of the JHU’s doctor experience but we won’t have to drive to Baltimore to get all the care. Together the doctors decided that Bill should not have the leg surgery until they allow the targeted drugs to shrink the existing tumors, which should be three to four weeks from now. It will be an easier surgery and safer for Bill and the surgeon. They cancelled the surgery and Bill immediately started popping Advil again. What a difference! He can walk fine again and isn't half as miserable as he was. Lucky me.
Today the drugs are coming FedEx. They are super expensive ($21,000 per month!) but between Medicare and an incredible foundation that helps cancer patients, for now, they will not cost us a thing. We hope they do what they are supposed to do without too many side effects. We know there will be some but for now we are working on the boat again and hoping to be cruising somewhere, somehow in 2015.