January 20: Pre-admission testing today showed an increase in Joanie's platelets from 48K to 65K, which was great. Surgery is scheduled for early on January 27, followed by a couple of days in the ICU and another 3 nights in step-down rooms. While the prospects of surgery are daunting, Joanie is looking forward to some relief from the removal of this tumor. We have confidence in her neurosurgeon and the utmost faith that God will protect her. Updates will follow after the surgery.
January 14: A six-week MRI today showed a slight increase in the size of a tumor adjacent to her original tumor surgical site. As a result, Joanie will have her 3rd craniotomy in about 10 days. COVID makes things move a bit slower in the health care world. Her platelets have improved from 34 to 48, but they will need to be over 100 before surgery to prevent excess bleeding. If necessary, she will receive donated platelets to give her an artificial boost.
We are comfortable with this approach. Based on her recent increase in headaches and pressue, it was not unexpected. Her neurosurgeon is world-renowned Dr. Ali Krisht and we have confidence in his abilities for the best-possible outcome. We are thankful the problem has been found and a solution is available. God has given us peace and we are comfortable that He is in control.
December 30: Treatment was placed on hold 10 days ago when Joanie's platelet count unexpectedly dropped from 52,000 to 32K over the course of a couple of weeks. No chemo, no immunotherapy as they both can contribute to low platelets.
She had to endure my giving her a week of daily B12 injections, then spend 5 hours getting an iron infusion in an attempt to increase her platelets. Headaches & body aches have returned but she avoids the pain meds as much as possible. Steroids are a necessity to prevent brain swelling--and they come with positives and a bunch of negatives. New labs will be taken on January 5.
Fortunately, Joanie was able to see a part of her massive family with 51 people joining us for Christmas lunch (don't worry--I catered most of it.) She enjoyed it so much.
Next MRI is scheduled for January 14. Prayers are appreciated for her body to produce the platelets required so treatments can be resumed.
December 3: Following another MRI, we met with Joanie's neurosurgeon and fully expected to get brain surgery scheduled within a week or so. Instead, he said his review of the MRI indicated the new spot on her brain had not grown in the last month and that no action was required at this time. His plan is to continue her monthly oral chemo and be-weekly immunotherapy infusions, with a new MRI in 5-6 weeks. Thousands of prayers have been lifted up on Joanie's behalf and the results are impressive, but not surprising. This will be a great Christmas!
November 26: 5 days of oral chemo completed and immunotherapy infusion received on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Lots to be thankful for in 2021, as each holiday & celebration means so much. Next up is an MRI & visit with her neurosurgeon Dr. Ali Krisht on December 3. That will give us an indication of what the next couple of months will bring. Either way--we praise God for another day, another hug, another family get-together. Life is certainly precious. It's going to be ok.
November 18: Joanie's oncologist decided her platelet count was sufficient to start oral chemo today, so she did. Good news is that's another weapon against tumor re-growth. The bad news is that it is chemo. She has a good attitude about it and has finished the 1st Christmas tree. Don't ask.
November 17 quick update: Well, rats. Joanie's platelet count remains a bit low, so she can't resume oral chemo for at least another week. Low platelets can cause a bleeding disorder, so we remain cautious. Today was a good day, so Christmas decorating has begun. She continues immunotherapy infusions next week.
Joanie’s radiation oncologist is 80% sure the area of concern on her new MRI is a small new tumor to the rear of her prior surgical site. He & her neurosurgeon ordered another MRI in 4 weeks. If it shows growth, she will have craniotomy surgery to remove it—followed by more of the outpatient radiosurgery she had earlier this year.
She’s back on steroids to reduce brain swelling, which has caused recent headaches and body pain. Her platelets dropped over the past 2 weeks, so we are delaying her immunotherapy infusion & oral chemo for a week to check them again. All of this wasn’t unexpected given her recent symptoms.
We are confident in her doctors’ approach & feel good about today. Joanie has faith this will all help her feel better. After 46 years of marriage, we don't give up easily. We are nearly 16 months into this glioblastoma journey and we cherish our time--even the tough times--together.
If you are also struggling in your life, don't hesitate to email us at the Region office. You are not alone.
Thanks to all of you who continue to express their concerns and offer prayers about Joanie's continuing battle with brain cancer (glioblastoma) since July, 2020. After two brain surgeries, she continues to take oral chemo for 5 days monthly and some infusion to help slow recurrence of the tumors. Fatigue remains a constant enemy, but we know this will pass.
We have resolved to trust our faith and not worry about tomorrow. We are enjoying some great days together and appreciate them more than ever. God is in control. Her next MRI is November 3 (in case you want to be very specific with your prayers.)
As a result, you don't get the pleasure of dealing with Joanie on your Delta Region matters...and are stuck with me. I'll do my best to follow in her great footsteps of serving the members of our Region. Updates will be posted here during the season.
If Joanie and I can pray for you, drop me an email at the Region office.