Back from Paris, Back from Houston

Posted by Casey on August 3rd, 2010

Casey, Jill & Ben in Paris

As usual, summer is flying by. It felt like a few hours ago that I was eating tasty food, visiting museums, seeing the sites and hanging out with Jill & Ben in the quaint cafes of Paris. We had a fantastic vacation… something we all needed this year. We were there for 10 days and went basically non-stop from the moment we stepped off the plane. (Except an occasional nap on my part.) Museums, monuments, parks, palaces, the Eiffel Tower, amazing restaurants… one after another… and we felt like we barely scratched the surface. I also got to see my friend Preston who lives there. It was a great time.

See more photos here.

Suddenly I was back at work, busy catching up from being out of the office, knowing that soon I’d be out once again for a visit to Houston.

Casey Quinn & Dr. Johannes Wolff

About a week before my scheduled appointments, I received a call from Dr. Wolff’s nurse. She was calling to inform me that Dr. Wolff was no longer with M.D. Anderson. “What??” I was shocked. According to her he had landed a wonderful opportunity with a center in Boston, and was originally scheduled to still see me but had to make a change in his plans. She went on to ask if I still wanted to visit for my appointments. It was my annual/full checkups, added to the fact that I’m still on chemo, so I didn’t understand why that would even be a question. Of course I needed to go! I flew down last Tuesday, and in starting my appointments quickly found out that Dr. Wolff was able to stay through the week afterall. Phew!

As mentioned, I was not only there for the standard brain scan, but also for what is now my annual visit for the more extensive testing where we check more of my body for potential tumors and recheck the old areas. As a result, I spent 3 days in tests rather than the normal 1 day.

On Wednesday I went through a bone scan, an electroencephalograph, blood work, and an MRI of my brain and neck. Thursday continued with an ultrasound of my abdomen, and two very lengthy MRIs of my abdomen and pelvis that lasted until 10:00pm. And Friday ended with more blood work, two more MRIs (t-spine and l-spine), and finally visits with both Dr. Slopis and Dr. Wolff and a surprise stop-in by Dr. Anderson.

In a period of three days I spent almost 6 hours in an MRI tube, had 5 needles in my arms, sat on other tables for other tests another few hours. It was crazy, but surprisingly simple at the same time — I’ve decided to use this as my annual visit for this reason. As a cancer center, M.D. Anderson has more ability to check so many areas with so many different scans for different cancers in one simple getaway. Efficiency is fun!

Perhaps you can already tell, but the results were good. Of all the tests there are only two items worth mentioning:

1) The MRI of my abdomen showed what is likely a cyst on one of my adrenal glands. It is not of any concern to the doctors.

2) The tumor in my brain is appearing exactly as it did two months ago. No growth! (Though no shrinking either.)

Given the results of all these tests, the conversation quickly turned to my chemotherapy. I’m on cycle 9 right now (starting last night), and am scheduled to go at least through October. So — how much longer? Dr. Wolff has frequently used three simple questions in what would warrant stopping treatment:

1 – Is the chemo no longer working? No, it’s working, so keep using it.

2 – Has the chemo reached dosage limits or become toxic? No, I generally feel good, so keep using it.

3 – Has the tumor gone away or no longer cancer? We’re not sure, and can’t easily tell, so keep using it.

So that’s the answer for now. I’ll just keep taking it until one of those happens (obviously we hope for the 3rd). And if you asked me before I started this chemo if I’d be okay with that, I would have said HELL NO. But given the simplicity of it, and the success thus far, I’m alright with it now.

As I mentioned, Dr. Anderson popped in while I was with Dr. Wolff to say hello and check how things were going. Dr. Wolff excitedly told him the news and pointed out that it’s been 10 months with no new signs of new or existing tumor growth. He reminded me (and in some ways pointed out for the first time) how lucky that makes me given the success rates of people with my grade and type of tumor. Quite simply, I’m beating the odds. I  guess it just made me that much more grateful for having that team to help me.

Unfortunately while all of this was happening I was remembering that Dr. Wolff was leaving. It was my last appointment with him! As it turned out, I was his very last appointment as an M.D. Anderson doctor. I hope he sees the success in my treatment as a great note to leave on, and wish him so much more success in Boston.

Strangely, going through all of this treatment has almost been therapeutic lately. I’m a member of the Anderson Network which has also given me the chance to work with other patients in the early stages of their treatment, getting to talk to them about their fears, concerns, laughs, awkward moments, etc.. There’s a lot of us, and I like that M.D. Anderson has these kinds of resources available, and I’m happy to help out.

Anyway, that’s the update. I’m off to take another dose of chemo and call it a night.

Hope you’re all well. Love you.

Tags: , , , , ,

22 Responses to “Back from Paris, Back from Houston”

  1. Cousin Ann

    Great pics of Paris & wonderful update! Keep beating those odds, Casey!!! Prayers always, from your Glenwood relatives & friends

  2. Laura & gang

    Great news!! I was just thinking of you the other day too :) Journey. Love always!!~ Laura

  3. Daire Frank

    GREAT NEWS!! You are one amazing guy! HUGS!!

  4. Erik and Jen

    That’s fantastic news, Casey. Congrats on the good news and glad to hear you had a great time in Paris.

  5. I’m so happy things are going well Casey! Paris looks like it was amazing – a well deserved trip. Hope all continues to look up. Miss & love you!

  6. Mandy, Mason & Grady

    Awesome news & pictures Casey, looks like you guys had a great time!! Hope we get to see you in a few weeks!!

  7. Steven Warren

    Howdy, neighbor ~~ Thanks for sharing this good news about your recent trip to Houston. As always, I admire your strength and courage and the sense of humor that threads through it all. I think we’re due for another little evening out on the town… let’s arrange it soon. I think there are a couple of cosmos somewhere with our names on them! ;-)

  8. Lisa & Bernie & family

    Great News Casey!!! Good to hear from you, would be good to see you!? Love you always.
    Bernie, Lisa, Dani, Kenzie, Roo & Cam!!!

  9. Cara Bennett

    Thanks Casey, glad to hear the prognosis is good and you’re beating the odds! God Bless You and may you continue to be an inspiration to those who face even a fraction of what you have endured. I’m still grateful and amazed that you are so peaceful and positive! Take care, Cara Bennett

  10. Jennifer Fightlin

    Glad to read about what’s going on in your life. Keep on…Keeping on!!! I love you tons-Jen xoxo PS I am in Thailand with my husband and we are picking up our twins born via a surrogate here (They are very healthy and doing great)-Cancer sucks but there are ways around it and ways to find miracles every day…you are one of my life’s miracles!!!

  11. Mike Bridge

    Good News. Good vacation. Life is Good.

  12. So good to hear your news, Casey. I love your photos too. Glad you could have a vacation together and in such a great place too. Hope we can see you again sometime before too long.

  13. mark kelly

    Great news and glad your part of the Anderson network.

  14. Lara & Toby

    Really happy to hear such good news! The pictures of Paris look amazing. Would love to get together at some point — we’ve missed you this summer!

  15. wonderful news. ooey gooey and delicious. xoxo!

  16. What good news Casey. I’m glad you had a good time in Paris too!

  17. I am so happy for you. I always keep you in my prayers. Lots of love

  18. Oh I forgot. I am so happy you all had a good time in Paris.

  19. Sarah Z Perron

    So glad you made it to the City of Lights! I love Paris! Very happy to hear your health news.

  20. Way to go, Casey! So happy for you. I’m sure your trip with Jill and Ben was fabulous. When’s the next? Love you – Aunt Lucy

  21. What an awesome fam pix! I used to work with Ben and he shared your blog with me. I subscribe via rss. Really enjoy reading about your moving and courageous experiences. Also admire your positive spirit! Rock on Casey!

  22. Michelle (Novakoske) Pucci

    Hey Casey. Was thinking about you today. Glad things are going so well. You look happy.

    Take care,