Tag Archives: Y-90

Chemo? What chemo?

There are all different kinds of people in the world. And these different people handle things in different ways. There are people who are joyous and there are people who are miserable. There are people who are hilarious and there are people with no sense of humor. There are people who are smart and there are people who…well…aren’t.

There are people who have no pain threshold and who cannot handle being sick and there are people who can take whatever you throw at them in regards to sickness and pain.

And then there is Travis.

Travis has been this way for as long as I have known him. He works through the pain. The sickness. I would say that he ignores it but that would require an acknowledgement of it being there in the first place.

He handled kidney stones on his wedding day and did nothing more than joke his way through it.

He broke his arm last summer. The doctor told him it would probably require surgery and he could hope for limited use within a month.

He was wakeboarding three weeks later.

Pain and sickness don’t keep Travis down.

But….

Travis has never faced chemo before.

ImageTravis began chemo on Thursday. He started the day with some blood work and then met with his rockstar, Dr. Hamrick. Dr. Hamrick feels it is unnecessary to put Travis through the Y-90 radiation until they see that the chemotherapy is working on the lymph nodes. His explanation made sense so they will be holding off on doing that.

From there, they headed to chemotherapy. The hardest part of chemotherapy was the I.V. It’s amazing that this seemingly indestructible man can be brought to his knees by a small needle. Travis has said, “I have no problem or fear of you cutting off 80% of my liver. But can you do it without needles?” And he means every word of it…notice the napkin covering the I.V. in the picture…

But once the I.V. was in place, all was back to normal, and the chemo began. The first three hours of chemo was him getting no chemo. They gave him bags and bags of anti-nausea medicine and fluids. In fact, during his five hour ordeal, really only two hours were spent actually getting chemotherapy. The bag of Gemcitabine came first and then the Cisplatin. And then he was done. “The first two days should be the worst and then you should start feeling better. See you in two weeks.”

So those first two days…

By the time he got home he could tell his body was…off. Nothing major but his legs were…shaky. Trey’s graduation from preschool was that night so they headed off.

As he sat through the graduation he could almost feel the chemo filtering through his body. His legs were definitely getting weaker and he just felt…off.  He proudly watched his son “graduate” preschool and then headed home with his father-in-law. He figured some sleep would help. He was in bed by 9:00 pm and he slept.

Hard.

And woke up twelve hours later. Feeling…

Fine?!?

He got his tub time…walked around the house a few times…and finally decided, “this is ridiculous.”

He headed to work.

And, once there…he put in almost a full day of work.

When asked how he feels he likens it to “growing pains”. Some pain behind the knees…a jolt here or there…but, otherwise, fine. He sometimes gets a sharp pain in his liver but he imagines it is the chemo attacking his liver. He is definitely fatigued and sleeps more than he ever has.

But. All in all. He feels…fine.

He  was up bright and early Saturday morning.

He had a commitment to keep. He was walking a 5K.

His good friend, Bryan
Jones, has a son with cystic fibrosis and today was the annual Great Strides walk to raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis.

Today, just 36 hours out from receiving chemotherapy, Travis “walked it out” with Team Bryce Bryce Baby to support his friend.

Will it always be this good? We can hope. But it is unlikely. The first chemotherapy session can be “easy”. Although, I am not sure they meant this easy. But, as the chemo builds in his system each time, it will become more difficult. The fatigue will become worse and other side effects may arise.

But not this time.

As I write this post, I am doing so from bed. I got hit with a stomach virus on Tuesday that, literally, knocked me on my rear end. I was doing better yesterday until I decide it was ok to eat something. Three bites of a burger and some tater tots and I was right back where it started…up all night long doing things I won’t publicly post about. I, too, was supposed to walk in the Great Strides walk. I was in bed. A few minutes ago Travis text me. It said…

“How u feeling. Bet I feel better than u 😎”

Touché Travis. Touché. To which I simply ask…

Chemo? What chemo?

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Cancer Kicks.

ImageIf you know Travis you know his style. And you know he is known for his style. His clothes are as wild as his personality and his shoes…as loud. Kind of like these little gems. His recent purchase. His new “cancer kicks”.

And you love him for it. Love him to the point that you take the fashion RISK of buying them in his honor. Wearing them in his honor. Friends like Steve Matheson and Charlie Cogen (aka The Chuckster) buy crazy shoes like this and send Travis pictures of them wearing them…just to make him feel better. Just to make him smile. Because that’s how much Travis is loved.

IMG_0139Loved by his precious wife, who is walking this journey along side him…in her own new pair of “cancer kicks.”

So Travis just wants to say thanks. Thanks for all the love. The support. And introduce you to his new “cancer kicking” shoes. He bought them for this trip. For this FIGHT. And he is ready to fight. He now has…a plan.

God has been so faithful in answering our prayers. Perhaps not always in the way we would want but His ways are so much greater than ours. So even when we may not agree I guess we just have to trust. After yesterday’s post, Disneyland for Dead People, our dear friend Kelly emailed me and said:

I am a faith person – I will believe to the point of people thinking I am an idiot!!! But I tell u this, I DO believe he will be healed!!! Having the lab tech read the results wrong isn’t much of a miracle….and I know God is gonna give us all a KABOOM miracle that forces the blind to see!!!! Not unto death….I believe it!

Guess I’ve got a lot to learn about being a faith person. Anybody else?

Yesterday, Carrie and Travis received confirmation that it is, in fact, Cholangiocarcinoma. They met with an expert, Dr. Shroff, (and I mean expert) in Cholangiocarcinoma. Cholangiocarcinoma and Pancreatic Cancer are the only things she works on. They could not have been in better hands so there is no more questioning if this is what Travis has.

And yet. Travis and Carrie feel peace. Prayer Answered.

Yesterday, Dr. Shroff sat and discussed treatment options with them in depth. There are so many treatment options. More than Travis and Carrie first realized. More than our “Google research” ever showed. Despite that, her suggestion aligned with the original suggestion that Dr. Hamrick, aka Dr. Rockstar, gave initially. She feels the best course of treatment, initially, would be to attack this cancer with two chemotherapies at once – Gemcitabine and Cysplatnum. Travis will be given chemo every two weeks for six hours. After two months they will reassess and determine their next course of action. Their next line of defense. It could be some kind of localized radiation such as Y-90 or Proton Therapy or another type of chemo treatment.

So the treatment course is clear. There is no worry about making the “wrong decision”. There really is no decision to make. Prayer Answered.

Dr. Shroff felt strongly about using the Gemcitabine and Cysplatnum together. She explained that their studies have shown that the Gemcitabine is far more effective when it is used in combination with Cysplatnum. So are you ready for the exciting part?

They have only been using this combination for THREE years. So who knows if the scary stats on the Internet are even close to being accurate anymore! There seems to be advancements in treatment pointing to possible…survivors????? For the first time ever. MD Anderson is giving them options, and, there’s a little bit of tangible hope. Prayer Answered.

And…the treatment prescribed.  Can be done in Atlanta.  Home.  Travis getting treatment and sleeping in his own bed.  With his family.

Prayer Answered.

Additionally, Carrie and Travis found out that MD Anderson would push for him to have Foundation 1 testing. Foundation 1 testing is an expensive, genetic testing that will show doctors which chemotherapy treatments your body is susceptible to. Scientists look at your DNA and look at where the gene is mutated and that tells them which specific chemo can attack it best. Sadly, many patients don’t get this. Either their doctor does not push for it, their insurance company won’t pay for it, or they cannot afford it. Your body can literally reject the chemotherapy and it will not fight the cancer. This test helps avoid that. What’s more is that Dr. Shroff stated that, because Travis’ cancer is so rare the Foundation will want it. So…if they can’t get it covered by insurance the Foundation will likely eat the cost.

Prayer Answered.

But what about all those scary statistics? What about those percentages? Don’t get me wrong. Cholangio is still a scary thing. And the percentages and numbers and expectancy doesn’t change. But. Dr. Shroff doesn’t see Travis as a number. Dr. Shroff sees him as an individual. And within just 30 minutes of meeting with Travis she was able to see him for who he is…a fighter. And SHE SAID….”I think you are an outlier.” Just. Like. Dr. Hamrick.

Prayer Answered.

The only way cholangiocarcinoma is ever cured is with surgery. But stage four patients are not eligible for surgery. Ever. Since first finding this out and seeing the stats between those who had surgery, and those who did not, Travis has been searching for a surgeon who would roll the dice on him. Who would take a chance. Because he knows that is his only chance. Yesterday…he found that surgeon. A conference call with a Piedmont Hospital suregeon at 5:00 gave Travis his first hope for surgery.

Prayer Answered.

But. Currently, Travis’ tumor is so large it is crossing between his right and left lobe in the liver. No surgeon in the world will touch that. He basically wouldn’t have a liver left if they did. So. We have to pray for the impossible. Pray that Travis’ body not only takes the chemotherapy but that it shrinks the tumor. This is a long shot for two reasons. First, cholangiocarcinoma does not usually respond to chemotherapy – which is why it is a “bad one”. Second, on the patients who do respond it typically does not shrink the tumor. It simply eats up the cancer but leaves the tumor “carcus” behind. We need it to get out of the left lobe. We need it to shrink. And then. Despite the odds. Despite the “rules”. The surgeon will consider surgery.

Today, when Travis went back to get the I.V. for his CT scan, the nurse looked at him and bluntly said,” Do you believe in God?”

Travis responded, “Yes. Yes I do.”

“Well keep believing honey…cause I see miracles walk out of here every day.”

I don’t know about you but I see God working in the Roberts life. He is answering prayers. Holding them in His mighty hand. Giving them peace.

Standing with God, Travis and Carrie are ready to take on this beast. In their new “cancer kicks”.