Mike was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, April 22nd with fever, nausea, vomiting and loads of pain – side effects from the immunotherapy infusion. A 5-round course of radiation was ordered to target his main tumor, the mothership, on his back/shoulder which seems to be effecting it’s composition. Also while in the hospital, the doctors ordered a CT scan of his abdominal area to rule out any issues. What the scan showed was not what any of us wanted to hear. Numerous tumors had grown in his abdomen. These were not pseudo tumors that sometimes show up after immunotherapy, but actual disease…the cancer…spreading. This led to the realization that immunotherapy was not working and would be stopped immediately. No point in making him endure terrible side effects for something that isn’t working. Incredibly heartbreaking for us and for him. Doctors, Mike and family needed to come up with a new plan for this new prognosis and set to work figuring out what that plan B looked like. He’s never been alone at the hospital…I flew down Tuesday, the 24th a little ahead of an already scheduled trip and we (me, Jenny, Ryan, my mom, and my dad) have been here around the clock, day and night.
During this hospital stay, I should also note that Mike lost his phone, so if you’ve been trying to contact him, he’s not ignoring you, I promise…he’s just been without a phone for about a week now. By Friday his body was feeling good enough and stabile to be discharged from the hospital. Months ago I had purchased tickets to the opera, Turandot, for me, Mike, Jenny, Ryan and my Mom to all go to together before any of this cancer business resurfaced. Somehow, Mike got it set in his mind that he was going with us no matter what and with some magical bad-assery he pulled himself together, got fancied up, stayed for the entire opera and really enjoyed it! It was so good to be able to do something special as a family.
The next morning (Sunday, April 29th), Mike woke up with a ton of nausea and severe pain once again and we felt the best place for him would be the hospital to keep him hydrated with fluids and IV meds. So back to St. Dominic’s we went. They ordered an MRI of his brain to check for any swelling or tumor growth that could be causing the nausea and thankfully that scan was clear. Dr. Young, his oncologist, was here last night and let us know the plan of action. Mike is going to start a pill that is a B-RAF inhibitor (google it…it’s way too long to type out what exactly it is and why he’s eligible to take it). This medication has success killing/inhibiting tumor growth for a short term. It will not send him in to remission, but will hopefully buy him and his doctors some time to figure out another treatment option. He will start on that as soon as insurance approves it and it arrives which should be any day now. In the mean time, Mike is fully aware of the situation/prognosis and continues to have a pretty positive, “let’s do this” type of attitude but certainly is emotional about it, too. We are still hunkered down in the hospital getting his pain under control to where he can come home. Once again, he’s turned a corner and is doing better physically today and we’ve been able to lucidly (is that a word?) talk about allllllll the things.
We need our warriors of the #teammikey army to think of Mike in these next few days as he starts this new drug and hopefully continues to gain strength to go home. Send prayers and all the good vibes, juju, voodoo, spirits…everything ya can…in the coming days, weeks and months that we can find a medical trial or some option somewhere that will bring remission.
And because I like to be positive, I will end this lengthy, emotional journal update on a strange, yet amazing little note. A cardinal showed up at Mike’s hospital window one morning when my mom, myself and Mike were there. The cardinal sat on the ledge not 8 inches from where I was sitting, singing and looking IN TO the window for a good 5 minutes. It was amazing! My mom did a quick little search of a cardinal’s symbolism and found that in some cultures (Native American, in particular), the cardinal is revered as a messenger between Earth and the Spirit. Wowzers, right? This very same cardinal has since visited Mike’s window EVERY DAY singing different songs, staying for several minutes and always looking in to the window, unafraid and persistent. Hope is out there for Mike…our little red messenger says so.
With strength, love, and hope…