Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back in Utah. Big Update, Lots of News

Hey everyone, Karen and I are back home in Utah. We had a good time in New York. We did a lot of the sightseeing that we wanted to do. We were able to meet up with one of Karen's friends and her husband and do some other fun things as well. I really learned my way around Manhatten with using the subway, buses, shuttles, air trains, and taxis. The hotel was great and we're really grateful to Darlene for being so kind to us.

Well, despite the fun, we weren't in NY to go sightseeing. I got my testing done at Sloan Kettering and the results came back on Thursday. Dr Feldman was at a convention so we got the results from one of his co-workers. Dr. Feldman was still behind the scenes e-mailing instructions at 2AM the night before when he saw the results. My AFP is up to 500 or so and there are a couple tumors that show up on CT. There is one in my abdominal lymph nodes that looks to be 1.1 by 1.3 centimeters. There is one in my lungs that is .7 millimeters. In order to qualify for the study, an abdominal lymph node has to be 1.5 centimeters or a tumor in another organ has to be 1 centimeter. So, I'm off eligibility by .2 millimeters or so.

Frustrating, and disappointing. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal, but I had hoped to get started. The unbending nature of the eligibility criteria seems a little ridiculous. Because of my insistence on doing this study and not any others, I'm back in Salt Lake for a few weeks to let the cancer do a little growing. I'll head back to New York in a few weeks (by myself this time) and repeat the tests. I have no doubts that the tumors will be more than big enough by that point and I'll get started.

Now, the next piece of news. Several months ago, Karen and I were given an unexpected opportunity to toy with the idea of doing In Vitro Fertilization and becoming parents. We decided to meet with the doctors at the reproductive clinic in Sandy, UT and do preliminary testing. After an educational class, lots of testing, hormone shots, and prenatal vitamins, they began the embryo transfer process. A bunch of healthy eggs were taken out of Karen and fertilized with some of my guys that had been frozen since before my first chemotherapy. This resulted in 12 embryos of varying quality. 12 is a good number and it seemed to surprise the nurses.

Next, they cultured the embryos for 5 days. At that point they are called blastocysts. Dr. Blauer showed us the two that were of very high quality. We chose to have them implanted in Karen and that operation was successful. I've got a picture of the little guys that I'll attach to this post. Before we left, Karen took a pregnancy test way before she was supposed to and it said pregnant. She got a quick blood test and the numbers looked good. They told us to be cautiously optimistic. Towards the end of our stay in New York, Karen definitely "felt" pregnant. She took another test before we came home and it still said pregnant. She got a blood test today and the numbers they look for are through the roof.

So, she's pregnant! :)

It's still very strange for me to say the words, "I'm going to be a dad". I'm very happy though. I cannot put into words how much it means to me that this is happening. Nothing could mean more to me at this point. Even seeing the picture of the embryos was enough to make me smile for hours. At a time in my life where very little has gone "right", something like this is enough to make life feel full and wonderful. All the more reason to keep fighting this relentless cancer, right?


I'm not going to use this blog as a week by week update of the pregnancy. We'll save that for another blog or facebook. There's no reason to associate cancer and this wonderful thing too much anyways. I'll leave you knowing that Karen is very much pregnant. I found myself leaving Wal-Mart today with Saltine crackers, a big jar of pickles, and a bunch of ice cream sandwiches.

Peace out,

PS: We have a VERY high chance of having twins.


Ann Marie said...

That is very frustrating to know that you were sent home without treatment.. and they want the cancer to grow. So sorry.

We are grateful you had a nice trip otherwise.. and are so EXCITED for your fabulous news.

You will continue to be in our prayers..

Mel said...

Sean! Frustrating! I hope that you can begin treatment asap as I'm sure you are too.

So happy for you and Karen, that will be a bright spot for you to look forward too.

I totally understand the sickness and am just barely getting over mine. This won't be the last trip you make. When something sounds good you need it right then! Good luck to you guys!

Kathy said...

Okay, so I forgot to ask... what's the Stebbie thing all about? Ha ha. You know I'm excited about the baby or babies! I wish they would have started you on the medication already. Sorry you are once again playing the waiting game! I love you pal! You're going to be a great dad and Karen will be a wonderful mommy!

Andy and Michelle said...

Congrats on the pregnancy! We are so happy for you guys!!!

Jan said...

Sunshine on a cloudy day!!! Such blessed news about the "babies" Incomprehensible that you have to wait to start your next treatments. I read wonderful stories in the book "Live Strong: Inspirational Stories from Cancer Survivors-from Diagnosis to Treatment and Beyond" about people going into remission through the treatments from clinical trials. Keep the faith, you and your family are in my prayers..

Teresa Major said...

I can't believe or imagine how frustrating this is for the two of you. Seems they could look at your past records and know how fast this grows!! Hopefully you'll get started in the next couple of weeks. Until then you have the Happy News of TWINS!!!! Our prayers continue to be with you.