Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Houston has Arrived

Kate came up with the title of this post. She said it was from the movie Apollo 13, but I don't remember it.

We arrived last night safe and sound after an easy 2-hour flight. After we got our rental car and checked into the hotel (8 PM) we were starved and headed to a local seafood restaurant that was pretty good. Kate had Yellowfin Tuna and I had Salmon (yum). Finally, we headed to the local grocery store (Whole Foods) to pick up some healthy breakfast food for Kate. She is on a "cancer-fighting" diet that eliminates sugar, cuts down on saturated fats, and increases healthy Omega-3 fats. I've joined her as well. More on this diet (from our personal research) at a future date.

Today, after a couple of delicious breakfast smoothies (that I whipped up in the hotel room) and tea we headed for MD Anderson. We parked at the wrong building so we wound up walking about a half-mile to the correct one. Once we arrived the paperwork went very quickly and then we were taken back to the exam room. We hardly had to wait at all. (Praise God!)

We met first with a "fellow" doctor who was a neuro-oncologist in training. (MD Anderson is located in the Texas Medical District so this is likely a teaching hospital) We forget her name but she was from Spain and very nice. She met with us for about an hour, asked a lot of questions, and did a full neurological examination of Kate (everything was fine). Finally, we met with Dr. Yung who was very nice as well and explained that based on the pathology slides, he believes that Kate has more of an Anaplastic Astrocytoma (Grade 3 - Mid Level Tumor) and not the Anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma. Due to this, he recommended radiation therapy for 6 weeks and then after a 3-week break start taking large doses of Temodar (chemo) for 5 consecutive days every 28 days for 1-2 years (cycle of 5 days on, 23 days off). The good news is that all of this treatment can be performed in St. Louis (Barnes).

This is a different recommendation than our oncologist in St. Louis who recommended taking the chemo in addition to the radiation (at the same time). Dr. Yung said that this approach is usually reserved for patients with Glioblastoma's grade IV, a worse type of tumor (the big kahuna, as Kate calls it). He said that the long term side effects of taking both treatments at the same time is unknown and he cautioned against this.

Also, we asked about the life expectancy with this type of tumor. He said that the median was around 4 years (with treatment) but since Kate is young and otherwise in good health, has good neurological function, and had a great surgery to remove the tumor (thank you, Dr. Forget), then it could easily be longer, like 8-10 years. (Praise God!) We asked about previous patients of his that had "beat" the median statistic and he graciously gave us the phone numbers of a couple of patients (one in St. Louis) that have lived well beyond their life expectancy. You can be sure we will be contacting them! (Praying for over 20+ years expectancy.)

At the conclusion of our visit, he said that we did not need to see any other doctors or have Kate go through any further tests. So, we are going to "lay low" in Houston and spend time together (perhaps a sightseeing excursion) until our departure on Thursday.

Overall, we are very glad we made the trip to see Dr. Yung, at least for peace of mind to know that we sought out the best of the best for recommended treatment options.

Finally, we deeply appreciate all of your prayers and support for us as we continue this journey. God has given us incredible peace at many different times as we have walked this path, no doubt due to our many prayer warriors who are daily interceding for us. May God richly bless you all!

Kate is down for a nap and I may do the same (its been a long time since I've taken a nap).

Safe in His arms,

Dave & Kate


Anonymous said...

Dear Kate and Dave,
Thanks for filling us in on what you learned today. Hope you both got a good nap in and get to really enjoy the rest of your time in Houston!
Still praying for you all,
Tiffani Gibbs

Jennifer Schulte said...

Kate and Dave...Sounds like the appointment went really well! It is good to hear some optimistic news from the medical field. I am sure you both feel a degree of relief....there are battles ahead, but at least you can have some peace knowing that you did all you could and you are taking the correct course of action to attack and defeat the dreaded "C"...May God continue to bless you both and keep you safe. Have an enjoyable, restful, and fun time together in Houston!! The boys were out having a ball, waiting for Gram/Dee Dee to take them to McDonalds...apparently, the whole school is going to be there. They were so happy and just really enjoying running around!! Take Care!! As always, you are ALL in my thoughts and prayers daily! jennifer

Anonymous said...

Great to hear the day went so well, the Houston Medical center is awesome, as it turns out I spend a lot of time there in my new job.
There are some things you might enjoy seeing in Houston and the surrounding area. Kemah Board walk--about 25 min from the med ctr., or Galveston, about an hour south, or the zoo, right there at the med ctr., I know of a great authentic vietnamise resturant down town, unfortunatly it is not a big tourist type city...have a great stay and let me know if there is anything I can do for you..spfisk@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Dave and Kate,

Celebrating this "good" news with you, and promising to help you however we can in the upcoming months/years of treatment.

God bless,

The Byars

Lisa Kelley said...

Kate and Dave,
I have been a silent "blog stalker" :-) but rest assured I have been reading and praying daily for you and your family! I am thrilled for you that the visit in Houston went so well and you have further peace of mind with the news you received. God is so good and cares so perfectly for his children! I must admit I am a bit jealous of your nap as I have all four kids home for the 5th day in a row all with strep throat!!! Boy could I use a nap...or maybe I just need a soccer gram or an aunt Dee Dee!!! :-)
Praying for you!
Lisa Kelley

Gram said...

It is strange when you walk into a McDonalds in Des Peres with someone else children and everyone there calls you Gram and Dee Dee. It seems all of Covenant School was there. Could they have one of these fund raisers at that good Mexican Place on Page Ave?
Anyhow the boys enjoyed themselves and that's all that counts.
Big C pointed out some nice Christmas lights on our way home from McDonalds tonight. I should take him out to Villa Ridge and show him the house with the red lights. The share holders of Ameren UE must like the red light man. He certainly out does himself each year. I believe you could say he is Franklin County's fame to claim in the Christmas lights extravaganza. More power to him or her which ever the case my be. Must be a him because a her would not walk the ridge cap of a house to decorate. At least not this her!
Enjoy your stay in big oil country while Dee Dee and I slave over lost gloves, baskets of laundry,a doddling #2 son and more veggie tales then anyone needs in a lifetime.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stiring not even young males. Dee Dee in her kirchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winters nap. When what to our wondering eyes did appear, but Dave and Kate and we began to cheer. Away to the door we flew in a flash, wasting no time and making fast tracks. We said not a word, but went straight for our car and drove down the street going quite far. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave a luster to midday of objects below. We would love to stay but we really must go for three active boys is a big job as you know. I heard Dee Dee say as she drove out of sight. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Gram over and out.

Mark & Sheri Stevenson said...

I've been getting such bad news from so many people lately, that I was ready to shut myself up in my house and unplug my phone and computer. But then yesterday, another friend of mine was getting her semi-annual follow-up for breast cancer, and she called to tell me she got great news! A clean bill of health. It was such a relief!
In reading your post today, I feel like the tide has turned and things are getting better. Undoubtedly, you have a tough road ahead of you, but there is hope! Your post today has given me a renewed faith in prayer and it's potential. It's easy to latch on to what a doctor says, because they're trained and experienced. But they are not God! They are not in control! And God hears our prayers, so I'm praying for 20+ years! And I'm praying with expectancy!
Meanwhile, enjoy your time in Houston!

Jennifer said...

Thank God for this optimistic news today! Enjoy Houston!

Jennifer Hughes