Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Michele Update

I am not sure why this latest update affected me in a way that was different from the other updates. I guess I could not imagine being faced with making this type of life or death decision. Michele, I've said it before, but your strength astounds and inspires me. I was moved to tears by your candidness and honesty, and yet, upbeat report.

Here is what she says:

"I know it has been over a month since I sent my last update so I apologize.

Quick update on Andy ... he is in Afghanistan and is doing fairly well, all things considered. He is terribly homesick and misses the kids and I so much. The good news is we talk almost everyday and email most of the days we don't get to connect. It's a bit frustrating that he can't tell me much that is going on there, but I am satisfied in knowing he is safe every time we talk!

AS for me ... I am doing really well overall. It's amazing how much things change in a few weeks! I have a little less than 2 months of recovery left, but I am finally done with the drainage tubes, I am no longer limping and I am controling the swelling in my leg with the lymphatic massage I learned from my physical therapist. My surgeon doesn't need to see me back until Feb and I am done with physical therapy for now!!! That's all great news.

The other task I've been working on this past month is finalizing my treatment decision. Unfortunately I mislead myself on the extent of the treatment and I was faced with a difficult decision because there really isn't a good option. I was given two choices -- enter into an immunotherapy clinical trial or leukine injections. The clinical trial is in Phase 3 and the first two phases have shown to be more effective than anything else for melanoma treatment. There are a few problems with this clinical trial however. The first problem is that because it's a clinical trial there is a 50% chance that you will get a placebo if you enter into the trial (meaning you don't get the drug). Nobody knows who does / doesn't get the drug except for the pharmacist -- even my doctor isn't told. The second problem is that the 50% of the population that gets the drug is faced with the potential for a spectrum of side effects and about 25% of that population will be impacted by the more severe side effects. So, the other option is to do leukine injections which are white blood cell injections. From a side effect standpoint, it's very appealing because the side effects are all minimal. However, leukine has not been tested for effectiveness in the treatment of melanoma so they may not do me any good. The clinical trial is given through IV infusions every 3 weeks for the first 4 months and every 3 months for the remainder of a 3 year period. The leukine injections are given every day for 14 days, then 14 days off. This cycle continues for 3 years. Bottom line, I got additional opinions from my surgeon and my oncologist at Mayo clinic and they both advised that I enter into the study initially. If after 2-4 infusions I do not show any side effects I will drop out and give the leukine injections a shot (no pun intended) :)

I started the process today with the preliminary testing I need to go through. I had an EKG this morning and I have a CT scan and bloodwork scheduled for Thursday morning. My first infusion will likely be next week sometime. I hope this is enough information ... I didn't want to bore you all with all the intricate details, but please know that I spent many hours in researching my options and obtained the opinions of the top notch melanoma oncologists and therefore feel confident that I am on the right path now. Keep the prayers coming and I will continue to keep you all posted.

God bless all of you as you prepare for Christmas (which is approaching very quickly!!!)

Much love, -Michele"

This girl is nothing short of amazing. I can't help but get emotional just thinking about her situation. No pity party here. She is unbelievable. Please keep your prayers coming.

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