Friday, January 19, 2007

Chemo--Day 2

Hi Everyone!

Today is officially day two of Jeff's chemotherapy. He will take his last doses of this first treatment session on January 23rd. Until then, the doctors will keep hammering away at the cancer. They are really going at it hard-core! Late last night, Jeff finished his first round of chemotherapy and started his first round of bio-therapy (the immune boosters). He will receive daily shots of Interferon-alpha and will be on a continuous IV drip of Proleukin for the remainder of his stay in the hospital. These drugs are EXTREMELY potent. If you're interested in learning more, please visit http://www.proleukin.com. Take a look at the sections on "How Does It Work, " "Side Effects," and, of course, "Melanoma Patient Success Stories."

So far, the staff has been managing Jeff's side effects very well and have kept them to a minimum. He had a fever of 102.7 last night, but this was medically induced because, as the doctor explained, fever debilitates cancer cells and makes them more susceptible to treatment, so fever actually helps the medicines work. His only other side effect has been some mild swelling/weight gain (4 pounds) due to the extremely high volume of fluids they are pumping into him. Again, this was to be expected and is quite normal. However, the most serious side-effect for Jeff has been the fatigue.

The nurses explained that everyone responds differently to treatment and that side effects are unpredictable and unique to each individual, however, EVERYONE has fatigue. But, fatigue doesn't even begin to describe it. Jeff is basically comatose. He doesn't wake up or respond when the nurses come into take his blood pressure and temperature. He doesn't respond to noise--doors opening/shutting, people talking to him-trying to wake him, etc. He is totally and completely out of it. This morning the nurse told me he HAD to eat breakfast. He couldn't just "try" to eat--he had to actually do it. So, they brought him food at 8:30 a.m. and I tried to feed him and keep him awake, but he just couldn't stay conscious long enough to cooperate. I can totally see now why they like to have a family member actually stay in the hospital with him--he needs round the clock care and the nursing staff simply can't spend the time necessary to feed him, make sure he drinks water and Gatorade, and try to wake him up/make him sit up every so often. He also needs someone to simply speak for him (I had to decide what he should have for lunch and dinner; I have to tell the nurses when his IVs run-out or when air is in the line because he doesn't hear the machine's alarm; etc. I'm so glad I'm here with him. I don't know what a cancer patient would do if they had to be in the hospital alone.

I don't mean to be so graphic in my descriptions of what is going on, but I have two reasons for going into detail: (1) other people who have a diagnosis of metastatic melanoma may be cruising the internet looking for hope and information, so if they come across this blog, I want them to learn something about the process; and (2) it will serve as a little diary for Jeff. He isn't entirely aware of what he's going through at the moment and I want him to be able to read back over his days in the hospital and see how well he did and how much he accomplished so that he can be proud of how much he's gone through. Finally, it is therapeutic for me to write these blog entries--it makes me feel like I'm "doing" something. It's either this or watching "The View" and Rosie annoys me. :-)

I'll write more after the doctor makes his rounds and checks on Jeff this afternoon. In the meantime, rest assured that even though he is tired, he is doing very well and has exhibited no unusual or scary side effects whatsoever. So, please don't worry or be scared. He's doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing to get the job done!

P.S. "Father David" the hospital's Catholic priest came this morning to bless Jeff and offer him communion which he, unfortunatley, was too asleep to receive. However, I'm sure he benefitted all the same. He said a very nice prayer which included Thanksgiving for all of Jeff's family and friends who are supporting him, so know that you all have been prayed for too!

Much Love, Kelly

12 comments:

Steel said...

Stay strong, Kelly. It sounds like you've got you head and your heart in the right places.

Katie Clancy said...

Kelly, thanks for sharing the details, happy and sad, gory or not. It helps me, and probably others, feel as if we are close and more present in supporting you and Jeff. Someday you can co-author a book of these experiences and serve as inspiration to others - or the general public as you are inspiring all of us. I am sure Jeff will be glad that you've kept such a good record for him. You're a strong person and I admire how you're handling all of his. Lots of love, Katie

Terri said...

Well, Iguess if you are gonna have a side effect be fatigue that would be the one I would want. That way if he is uncomfortable at all he won't feel or really know it and just be sleeping and sleep is always comfortable. Keep your head up Kelly your are doing great and I would want you as my wife any time. Ha, ha. I love you both.

gardiner said...

Thank you again Kelly for your beautiful updates. Being able to know what Jeff and you are going through somehow makes us feel more supportive. Your messages exude strength. We will all follow your example of strength and hope as we pray and request prayers.
We're here for you. Love,
Meaghen, Brendan, Grace, Clare.

Jim said...

Jeff & Kelly -- Your words are touching and inspirational. Please know that our prayers are with you -- we know that the Lady on the Dome will take care of you!

The Carrig Family

mka said...

I feel as Terri does, being asleep is better that a lot of other things. I think you two should write a book. Maybe other sick people will start blogs. It really helps take away the anxiety when I know I can read about what's been going on. Love, Mom

TheRamFam said...

Jeff & Kelly,

We watch your blog daily for the updates. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. We have added you to the prayer chain in Tom's childhood parish in Beloit, WI (Our Lady of the Assumption) I will also have a friend light a candle for you at the Grotto this weekend. Notre Dame Nation is praying for you.

Heal Like A Champion Today!

Tom, Kerry, Elizabeth, and Grace Ramsden

Patrick and Tracy said...

Kelly,

Thanks for the blogs. We really get the sense that we are right there with you when we read them. And what a great way for people to offer there love and support. You and Jeff are definitely blessed with a great network of family and friends. We will call this weekend and see how you're doing.

We love you guys,
Patrick and Tracy

katie.elsener said...

Hi Jeff and Kelly,
Two masses will be said for you at Pius next week. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Mary, I assume you read these comments. Please email me at katie.elsener@piusx.net

Mark and Katie

teasley_5 said...

Kelly, you are such an inspiration. You are both in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for keeping us up to date with the blogs. It does make us feel closer to you.
Love,
Jason, Chanda, Alex, Noah, Bailey

Ron & Mary said...

I came across one of my favorite prayers and wanted to share it with you too.
St. Theresa's prayer:
May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you were meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content in knowing that you are a child of God. Let his presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, and praise and love. It is there for each and everyone of us.
We will be praying for you constantly.
Love, Ron, Mary, Kelsie, and Leslie Dodd

kdub said...

Kelly and Jeff, I am a long lost friend of Jeff's. I grew up around the conner from the Dodd family. Jeff used to take me to school. We ran track together and he was one of my first real boyfriends:) I've been reading your blog daily and am praying for Jeff's healing process and that you continue to have strength and courage. God bless you and your family. Peace and Love from Bend, OR...Katie (Wilkins) Leyden