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