Week 6 Radiation (New Years)

5 Jan

Well it has been quite a week.  We were watching Susie quite closely during the weekend, as her platelets were below 50k.  On Monday she came in for her normal radiation treatment at 10 am and then followed it with complete blood count (CBC) test.  On our way back to our car, I looked over at the car next to us and I saw a familiar face.  My old boss, Rich Stroum, was sitting there.  I knocked on the window and he hopped out with a big smile.  I worked with Rich at Pervasive Software and SMART/ i2 Technologies.  He helped Susie and I when we where first going through Susie’s cancer.  Irontically, he and my father went to middle school together.  Nevertheless, we talked for a short bit, as Susie was quite tired.

When we got home, we received a call from our Nurse Practitioner.  Susie’s blood test results came back and her platelets had fallen to 18k.  The lowest it had ever been (i.e. nadir) was 15k about 15 years ago during her first round of chemo.  The threshold for getting a transfusion of platelets is normally around 25k.  So, we got back in the car and headed to Seton Hospital.  Susie was checked in, bed board, and had her blood type confirmed (A Positive).  Her veins were less than cooperative, but that is not uncommon for Susie.  When the platelets arrived, the nurse sat with us for about 15 minutes to ensure that Susie did not have an adverse reaction to the transfusion.  All in all, the transfusion was less than hour.  I think we spent four hours in the hospital.  She was quite happy to be home for dinner and get an early nights rest.  I was even happier that her platelets had risen to 67k, highest it has been since before Christmas.

TiffanyLampWith the confirmation of her platelets being much better, we were okay-ed to venture out in the world.  Obviously knife juggling, sword swallowing and contact sports are still off the acceptable list of activities.  Nevertheless, we had a quiet New Years Eve.  Gabriel and I installed a new fan with a Tiffany light in the master bedroom.  I think Susie was asleep by 10 PM.  I went downstairs and hung with Gabriel and Pearl until midnight.  Gabriel showed me a great program (OsiriX) for reading medical scans on the Mac.  We heard lots of fireworks from downtown.  I could see some from our upstairs balcony, but after a while it became a cloud of smoke with flashes.  The view of fireworks from downtown is definitely better from Todd Watson’s place on Barton Springs Road near South Lamar Boulevard.

On New Years Day, we slept in.  We went out to Susan and Karl Steffes’ home for the annual UMA Gathering.  The gathering is usually held on the Winter Solstice, but their house had been quarantined with the flu.  So, the event was rescheduled as a New Years Day gathering.  It was a pleasure to see so many faces and to see how all of our kids have grown/ matured over the last 18 years.  Susie had a terrific time.  Like always she wanted to be the last to leave, but we were stopping to visit more friends on our way home.  The weather was absolutely beautiful.  We stopped at our friends George Burton and Leslie Larson.  They lit a fire in their backyard and our friends the Mahaffeys had just returned from skiing in Salt Lake City.  Back in the summer, we talked about doing Christmas/ New Years in the Wasatch Mountains with them, but alas cancer diverted our plans.  We left Gabriel and Pearl with their kids, and we headed home for an early night.

Susie started back into radiation the next day (02-JAN).  She also had a blood test that Thursday.  Unfortunately, her platelet count had fallen to 46k.  So, Susie did not restart her chemo and we are now back to closely monitoring her daily blood tests.  On Friday, her blood counts fell even further to 28k.  So, the instruction was to keep a close eye on on her in case she has any bleeding or significant changes.  We did not see any bleeding.  She still had the red dots/ petechiae and some bruising on her legs.  The main change, we observed was significant exhaustion/ fatigue.

Somehow we were able to get Susie out of the house on Saturday to her mom’s.  Her brother Charley and his brood were in town for a wedding.  We wanted to connect our families together, as Gabriel was taking a flight back on Saturday to Cal Poly.  It was a nice visit and I am happy that we went.  Susie even played dominoes.  I drove Gabriel to the airport later in the day.  On my drive home my emotions overcame me.  It was the first time, I had really been by myself and the realness of Susie’s actual fatigue and fear of bleeding/ possible death was just too much.  I’ve been trying to keep a brave face in front of everyone, but my heart was feeling too big for my chest.

What a way to start the new year.  I sincerely hope next week is smoother sailing and the winds cooperate.

Guy Lipof

Accomplished Engineering Executive with deep consulting and sales expertise in healthcare and life sciences, particularly in oncology, driving business strategy, delivering innovative solutions, and improving patient outcomes. Care partner and advocate for raising awareness about and investment towards Brain Cancer Research, such as Glioblastoma Multiforme and IDH mutant gliomas.