Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

• Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:27 AM, CST
Happy Holidays to all of you. I originally planned to send out the link for this web page last month, but Michael and I chose to wait until we had more information from his doctor.
Yesterday Michael had a new MRI scan. Unfortunately the news was not what we wanted to hear. In spite of the ongoing treatment, the cancer has spread. For those who don't know about this type of tumor, Glioblastoma, you can remove a significant part of the tumor during the first surgery, but the tumor does have tentacles that are not always detectable. Eventually those do begin growing, which causes there to be other growths in various parts of the brain. This recent scan confirmed that this has occurred. The main symptom that has been evident for Michael has been an increase in small seizures. His doctor has added a secondary medication to help manage this symptom.
Given this recurrence, the next question is where do we go from here. The doctor would like to find a new clinical trial that Michael can consider, yet there are no appropriate trial openings at this time. His doctor feels that while the Avastin has not kept the tumor from growing, it has most likely slowed it down. For this reason, although Michael will no longer participate in the clinical trial, he will remain on the Avastin. Michael will also be given a change of chemotherapy. He will now begin taking Lomustine, known as CCNU. This is still a pill form of chemo, which we hope will also help stabilize the tumor.
Needless to say we have felt the emotional blow of this bad news. We feel wounded, but will persist in fighting this cancer. Please keep Michael in you thoughts and prayers. Please send him your supportive messages through this web page, and remember that we cherish all of you.
Love. Dan

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

• Tuesday, December 2, 2008 10:22 PM, CST
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. As with last year, we are continually challenged, but also quite blessed. In October we celebrated two very special occasions, Mike's 1 year anniversary of being a survivor of this cancer, and our exchanging of vows. A year ago we were blind-sighted by this diagnosis, and didn't quite know what was ahead for Mike. Our hopes were high, but the prognosis was low. What a unexpected joy to be standing on top of a beautiful hill, one year later, professing our love and commitment to each other through our wedding vows. Truly we are blessed.
It is also with a tone of concern, that we provide all of you with an update of Mike's condition. His most recent MRI was on 11/26/08. At that time Mike's doctor shared with us that there may be a new tumor growing in his right temporal lobe, just below his initial tumor. Without getting into too much detail, and medical jargon, his scan showed evidence of some pressure or swelling in that area of the brain. Mike will continue to receive his bi-weekly treatments of Avastin, and return in one month for another MRI. The doctor hopes that with another month of treatment he will be better able to guide us in what direction to take Mike's treatment. If it is decided that this current medication regimen has run it's course, there are a number of other medical trials that Mike can benefit from.
Of course we are approaching this period with concern, but also with a great amount of optimism. If the cancer wants a fight, let it be warned, we are warriors.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Michael's Story

Michael's Story

As you all know, Mike was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme stage 4, brain tumor, in October 2007. Although he has had a great year since his initial surgery, Mike's journey continues. We will use this site to keep all of you up to date on his condition.
You may also leave messages for us. We would love to hear from you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hi Everyone.

Just a short note to keep all of you up to date. Mike had his most recent MRI on 6/26/08, which gave a continued thumbs up. His oncologist says everything continues to look good, meaning there is no growth in the tumor site, and Mike continues to respond well to all his treatment.

Best wishes to all.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Hi Everyone.

I hope all of you are enjoying beautiful spring weather. Unfortunately, beautiful weather often comes with a bit of misery for us allergy sufferers. But, who's complaining....

Mike continues to respond very well to his treatment. He has his next MRI scheduled for May 1st, and we have no reason to expect anything but good news. I can't help but remember how scared we were feeling when Mike was originally given his diagnosis six months ago. Since that time Mike has gone through a lot, and at the same time we have learned a lot. We have met many people with similar brain tumors who have defied the odds, and are surviving well. The field of neurological oncology is changing rapidly, with new studies and treatments coming out all the time. In short, we have renewed hope.

As I am writing you, Mike is visiting his friend Craig, who is on an extended stay in Santiago, Chile. I encouraged Mike to take this opportunity to travel. Of course we had some worries, but his doctors gave him a thumbs up for the trip. Life and opportunities should not be taken for granted.

To this end, we have decided to try giving back to those who have helped us. The National Brain Tumor Foundation is holding their 14th Annual Brain Tumor Walk & Angel Adventure. It will be on Saturday, May 3rd. It's a 5K walk, which takes place in Golden Gate Park. This is a last minute decision on our part to participate. We will be out of town the evening before the walk and were planning on staying at a nice hotel. We have now decided to drive back home after attending the wedding of Mike's cousin. We have instead chosen to make a donation to the NBTF Walk with the funds we would have spent on the hotel.

We are also asking all those who are able, to make a donation on behalf of our team, "A Hike with Mike." I am providing a link to our team page for this purpose. http://www.firstgiving.com/danielcano The NBTF has been very helpful to us, providing monthly support groups, online newsletters, DVD's and pamphlets, and most helpful, the wonderful conference in February. They have really dedicated staff who have taken a sincere interest in our needs as a family.

Thank you all for you love and support.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hi Everyone.

Sorry that has been a long time since my last update. Please always take that as good news. Now that Mike is off the radiation, and only on chemotherapy 5 days per month, there isn't too much to report in between each MRI.

Mike had his most recent MRI reading this past Friday. Dr. Peak, his oncologist, went over the results with a fine too comb, so to speak, and everything looks great. As Dr. Peak says, no new growth mean we have everything stabilized. This means that Mike's tumor is being kept at bay with the medications currently in use. As I probably previously reported, he gets a new MRI every two months, which helps the doctor with his continued plan of care.

While Mike continues to struggle with the fatigue that the medications create, he is working on a part time basis, and keeping busy with the joys of daily life. So maybe it's not always joyful, but hey, nobody promised us a rose garden right?

This past week we enjoyed playing host to Mike's friend Kate from the UK. She was very nice, easy going, helpful, and well, just the perfect house guest! On Saturday my son, Remy, and I attended a day long conference in Sacramento about Brain Tumors. We learned a lot, and really enjoyed the various speakers. Remy walked away with an increased knowledge of interesting brain trivia and many trinkets from the various vendors. I walked away with a new optimism about our future. With all the recent medical advancements, and statistics regarding patient responses to treatment, there is good reason to believe that Mike will continue to beat the odds.

Please know that we continue to appreciate all the good will, and hope you know that you also have our support in challenges of daily life.

Best Wishes.

Dan and Mike

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hey everyone! Its me, mike, for a change. Dan has the evening off, but will be back on the air next week at his regularly scheduled time. I'm not sure who half of these email addresses represent anymore, but I really appreciate your continued interest in my treatment and support for Dan and me through this process. I've been done with chemotherapy and the radiation treatments for about a week now, and I feel like a dark cloud is clearing and I'm starting to wake up. I'm feeling better each day. Of course, with clarity comes the realization that I've done almost nothing the last three months and my life is a mess, but my favorite saying these days is 'I'll worry about that tomorrow'. (that's my way of slipping in an excuse/apology for not sending out xmas cards, thank you cards or any other type of paper product, but I think of you all often) Unfortunately, the day after tomorrow, Thursday, the chemotherapy starts up again at twice the dosage I was taking before so I may just slip back into my previous tired, oblivious state. Fortunately, this time I will only be taking it five days in a row and then have the rest of each month off. Apparently this process is supposed to continue the rest of my life. What????!! I didn't realize before that chemotherapy could be a life long process. Of course, "life long" has taken on a new meaning for me.

That was today's big question. Dan and I started with a 9am MRI in Redwood City, followed by a 10:30am appointment with my oncologist. This was the first MRI since the chemo, radiation and avastin treatments started so we've been very anxious to get the results. The doc. said the results looked very good. I responded well to the treatments, the tumor seems to have been reduced in spots, and there didn't seem to be any new growth. Its was the first time since the initial diagnosis that I think both Dan and I have felt optimistic. I think we can now move from planning for the next three months to looking at treatment plans for the next three years. Unfortunately, my doc. was quick to point out that with this diagnosis we're not talking about a cure, we're just looking at the possibility of living longer with the tumor if I continue to respond so well to the drugs and not show any signs of neurological damage (he's such a kill joy). But, to cheer us back up he did add that perhaps a cure could be found in the next couple years which would change treatment options. So, my new goal is to live long enough for some brilliant mind out there to find a cure. Now, I know many of you on this list have brilliant minds, so please get to work!

Dan and I will be celebrating the latest MRI results with a little champagne and I hope everyone will join us in a toast to a hopeful and healthy 2008. All the best to everyone and much love from Dan and mike.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

This update comes a bit late, and all I can do is blame it on the chaotic times also known as the "holidays." With all the complaining we all do about the preparations for the holidays, when it's all said and done, I must say it was well worth the effort.

Our family spent the weekend before Christmas with Mike's mother, his brother, and all of his brother's family. Mike, my son Remy, and I arrived on Friday early evening with our new puppy in tow. We helped Barbara get the fireplace going, then spent a cozy time eating and relaxing. Of course this is all under the backdrop of Remy and Tessa running around the house with high energy and loud voices. Billie was being the typical pre-teen, with the phone glued to her ear, and her fingers typing away on the computer. She did briefly grace us with her presence during the meal, then was off again. This is what I consider a typical family gathering.

On Sunday Robert and the rest of his family arrived so that we could all be present for a delicious Christmas dinner prepared by Barbara. Gifts were exchanged, and Michael was presented with the gift of a star being named after him. I'm not talking about a rock-star, I'm talking galaxies away, big bright rock in the sky kind of star. This unique gift came from him big brother Robert. This tough guy continues to amaze me with showing his sensitive side by reaching out to Michael throughout this.

On Christmas Eve we were back in San Francisco, as Mike had a radiation appointment first thing that morning. From there we were off to San Rafael to pick up my son Dante so that he could spend a few days celebrating Christmas with us. That afternoon we waited for my daughter, Arianne to arrive home from work, then had our Mexican Christmas Eve tradition of hot chicken tamales. These were not store bought tamales, they were the authentic thing, made by the loving hands of my mother Flavia, who lives in So. California. To our great surprise she had four dozen tamales Fed Exd overnight to our home. Before eating we lifted a glass to Grandma Cano for our wonderful meal. The rest of the evening was spent eating far too much sweets, drinking hot cocoa with way to many marshmallows, and watching both It's a Wonderful Life and Meet Me In St. Louis. All of this while Mike and I quietly wrapped gifts once the kids had nodded off.

The next morning we quickly got off to church, where our non-traditional family was asked to bring up the gift of bread and wine for communion during the mass.

After Christmas was over, Mike had only two radiation appoints left, so on December 27th he finally completed the six week combined treatment of Radiation and Chemotherapy.

In all I must say that Mike came through all of this in very good shape. Not to downplay the difficult periods, as he certainly suffered side effects and symptoms related to the three treatment modes he is enrolled with. I would say the most difficult concern would be that of increasing fatigue. It often dictated what kind of outings Mike might try to undertake, and sometimes, the consequences of trying to over do things. I Hope that as things now start slowing down, both Mike and I will be able to put some of these worries aside, and plan some of the fun things we enjoyed prior to being invaded by this unwanted tumor.

Today is the beginning of the new year, and very few of us can see what's truly ahead for us. This is why we consistently find ourselves pondering over prior failed new years resolutions. Lets try to have a global resolution that we can each personally participate in. Let us tell each other how much we value each other, and do this while taking very good care of ourselves. If you care for yourself, then you are better able to care for others. I have been taking good care of my Michael, but not of myself. Starting tomorrow morning, I will get the kids off to school, then get my tired old self down to the gym. I will also do my best to drag Michael down there with me.

Next Steps..............On Tuesday, January 8, 2008, Michael will have his follow-up MRI at Kaiser Redwood City. We will immediately meet with his oncologist, Dr. Peak. At that time we will know how much success they had in shrinking or killing off the cancer cells, or minimally, slowing down the tumor's growth. The outcome of these findings will of course dictate the next course of action, which I promise to relay to everyone as quickly as possible.

In closing let me say that I am truly in love with this man, his smile both sets me at ease and fills me with childish laughter. Remember that winning smile before you settle down tonight. Feel his smile radiate over you, and send him your well wishes. Because believe me, if he starts holding back on those smiles over here, you may one day find Little Mr. Lowrie giving those tamales a run for their money, by being FedExed over night to one of your unsuspecting home....!!

It's late at night, and I fear that my writing style may be a bit testy. I can always blame it on the sleeping pill that didn't do its job tonight.

Love to all of you. And a wish for a very loving and joyful New Year.