January 23, 2011

Hi everyone.
This is Dennis' brother Larry again.

It has been awhile and some of Dennis' friends have let me know it is time for an update - so I will do my best even though there is not a lot of new information to share.

I never realized how hard the cancer treatment was for the patient, or for his family and his friends. Dennis can do little but endure. Family and friends can do even less. I know this has been particularly tough for his wife, his kids and mom.

Dennis spends most of this time in his recliner chair now. Besides going to treatments, sleeping is his primary activity. His trips to the bathroom for his regular mouth rinses are made with short tiny steps.

His voice is almost completely gone now so I can't really report much about how HE feels about all of this as we can't chat. His doctor said that this is temporary and his voice will return. Last week they found a small infection in his throat and that is being treated with antibiotics. Because of some bad coughing recently, they x-rayed him to make sure he isn't coming down with pneumonia. Results are expected next week but assumed to be good as no calls were received. His medical team seems to be on top of things, always alert and reacting promptly to any potential issue.

Dennis still goes in for daily hydration. More specifically, he is hooked up to a clear plastic bag suspended on a hook above his head, just like those used for a blood transfusion. The bag holds a liter of water to which they blend in the elixir of the day. Currently this is a bit of pepcid to help his stomach and esophagus, some magnesium and potassium to make up for losses caused by the radiation, and a dose of zofran anti-nausea medication. The water falls from the bag with a slow drip, drip, a drop at a time into a tube and travels directly into his blood stream. When watching this almost hypnotic dripping, it seems it will never end but two hours later it is over. Dennis sleeps through most of this process.

Some key dates for you data cruncher types like me.

  • His final chemo treatment will be on February 3.

  • Next week, radiation treatment #28, will be his last broad area treatment. The remaining radiation treatments focus solely on the site of the original tumor.
  • His final radiation treatment, #39, is scheduled for February 10.

Dennis is taking a real beating now. This period has been tough on his wife and his mom but that is how the treatment works. He suffers a lot but the cancer suffers more. It dies.