Friday, July 30, 2010

Finish Line in Sight

As most of the readers of this blog site know, I took a little vacation from work from November of 2008 through June of 2009. Activities during those 7 months included stem cell collection, three rounds of high dose chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, and three hospitalizations as well as multiple infections and blood clots to resolve. During that time I also found out about the body's amazing ability to make new blood. If not I'm sure I would have dried up like an old prune given the amount of blood they took out of me during that time.

Since then I have been on a monthly regimen of low dose chemotherapy. Kind of a booster shot for those who achieved remission during the transplant phase and for people like me who are still working on remission it is ongoing therapy to get me into remission. Maintenance chemo is scheduled for twelve monthly cycles and I am now one week into cycle twelve. I have 17 days of treatment left, 17 doses of Revlimid, 4 doses of Dexamethasone, and 2 infusions of Velcade, but who is counting.

With maintenance chemo they keep pumping just enough poison into your system to make you feel sick about 90% of the time and really sick the other 10%. And of course you are always, always tired. However, I have been told by those who have boldly gone before me in this process that a few weeks after you quit taking meds, and as the chemo is flushed from your system you begin to feel like your old self. Some describe it as feeling like they have been let out of jail. I am really looking forward to seeing what the next few months will bring.

Following the completion of cycle twelve, I will have a complete evaluation of the status of my cancer. This is a full day of testing; lab work, bone marrow biopsy, PET scan and MRI. I then meet with the doctor on the 26th of August to go over results. Hopefully, this last three months of therapy has done the trick and gotten me into remission. I will post the results as I get them.

Meanwhile life goes on. This has been an exciting summer for our family. Jennifer, Gary and family moved back to Utah in June after being gone for almost 14 years. It is so nice to have them close again. Kelly and Tyler and their family were here for a week near the end of June and we were all together for a little while. During the week they were here we had two family reunions, one for the Tanners and one for the Smiths. This would have been hectic enough but the fact that we were in charge of both reunions made it an absolutely crazy week. By Sunday of that week we were all exhausted but it was certainly great to see so many of our family.

Grandpa Steve with Annie Grace and Maggie Lynn

Steve helping princess Maggie fish

The crew at the fish hatchery - the only way to go

Tanner family golf tournament
The highlight of the day - Kelly chipped in a long shot for an Eagle

Tanner family golfers - 2010
Back row - Steve, Paul, Jerry, Jim, Tyler, Gary
Front row - Lynn, Matt, Pheobe, Kelly, Audrey, Tanner
Missing - Jennifer and Ethan - Sadly Ethan was sick and Jennifer was caring for him
Tanner family reunion - 2010

Kelly face painting at the reunion

Crazy cousins
Lauren, Jaxon, Lia and Annie

Smith reunion - 2010
Maggie, Tyler, Kelly, Lynn, Steve, Tanner, Jennifer
Lia, Jaxon, Ethan and Lauren
Missing Gary, Audrey and Annie
Gary on his way back to Kentucky, Annie unfortunately sick and Audrey was taking care of Annie