Over the weekend Brad started to experience a more acute shortness of breath. By Monday Brad stopped to tell me that he didn't want to alarm me, but he was really having trouble catching his breath. He said that he was having trouble just moving from his recliner to his wheelchair....or just standing. This has happened somewhat before...usually associated with coughing spasms. At first we weren't sure what to think, but by late Monday afternoon he had some other symptoms of concern....along with fever and a quickening pulse that had me worried enough that we decided to go in to Urgent Care by Wednesday evening. I thought that maybe he had another case of pnemonia (or some other type of upper respiratory infection) and that fluid on his lungs was intensifying the breathing problem.
By the time we got in to see the doctor at the Urgent Care clinic, Brad's fever subsided. We are still uncertain as to the exact cause of some of his sudden symtoms. A chest x-ray was run, but because of the tumors in his lungs, it was difficult to see what else could be the cause of his symtoms.
Tuesday morning we went into Houston to see Dr. Lehane (Brad's local oncologist). Dr. Lehane compared Brad's CT scan from last April to the one he had on November 1st. He said that while Brad's cancer is not growing at a "lightning pace" it is growing very quickly. Lehane believes that because most of Brad's right pulmonary artery is almost completely filled with tumor and blood clotting, the right lung is not getting the blood it needs and the body is responding by sending his air primarily into his left lung. Also, Lehane believes that some of the blood clots from the right side are being sluffed off into the left lung causing some of those branches to fill with clotting...thus causing the shortness of breath. Brad was perscribed blood-thinning medication to help dissolve some of the clotting and if that is the problem...hopefully allieviate some of shortness of breath.
Lehane also talked with us about the idea of surgically working on Brad's right pulmonary artery...to cut the right side off from the left so that it would stop throwing clotting into his left side. While this wouldn't be a curative approach...it might help him feel better for a time. Next week Lehane plans to present Brad's case to the tumor board at Methodist to see what they have to say about his case.
Lehane also revisted the idea of chemotherapy for Brad. He said because his cancer was growing very quickly, a drug that kills fast dividing cells might possibly slow down his disease. When we questioned the likelyhood of the success of this option, Lehane said that he couldn't be certain, but he was willing to try it with Brad. This will be a very big decision for us. We have spent the last 6 months strengthening Brad's immune system. The chemotherapy would do the opposite, thus setting Brad up to more easily contract other diseases that his immune system is faced with. Having 2 small "germy" kids at home....this is not a decision to take lightly. And in his condition, Brad could experience severe effects that could possibly be much worse than the disease itself. The idea of chemo will be a VERY big decision for us should we consider it. Most doctors have told us that the amount of chemo that it would take to kill the chondrosarcoma would be fatal for Brad...if Lehane has a different idea of what he would like to try...we will have to hear more and then weigh all the pros/cons.
When measured on Monday and Tuesday, Brad's O2 level was moving between 84-89 %. So, yesterday a company come out to our home to install an oxygen machine for our home. While he doesn't need the oxygen all the time, it does occasionally make Brad feel better. At the same time, Brad is struggling with the idea of being to a point where he needs an oxygen machine.
This morning we are back at Methodist to run a CT scan. Lehane hopes that this test will help provide him more information to determine if blood clots are indeed the source of the problem. We will return to see Lehane at the beginning of next week to discuss the test results.
Our family really needs prayers at this time. We have decided not to return to Germany for the time being. Even if the treatments have possibly slowed the rate of cancer growth some....we do not feel that it is enough to outweigh the challenges of frequent international travel. We are continuing to explore ideas for what we can do to help control the disease...dietary methods, etc. And, we will continue to work with local doctors for now to see what they offer in the way of treatment. We ask for prayers for breathing relief for Brad, for clear decisions for treatments, and for peace about a situation that is beyond our control.
Brad told me yesterday, that although his lungs look bad, he has not given up....he said that he has to continue to believe that he can beat this disease. He is such a brave man and I am so proud of his strength, endurance, and unfailing positive, determined attitude. I am completely in love with this man.