Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Waiting Game

Today Buddy started the 2nd week of the 2nd chemo cycle, and because his lab results have improved, they are re-introducing cytoxan into his regimen...this powerful drug is the one being held responsible for blasting so many cancer cells in his 1st dose last Apr 18 that resulted in "tumor lysis" -- the "blasted cells"clogged up his kidneys, his body went into shock, his heart rate slowed down to the 30s (potassium was 8 and creatinine was 12) and he was confined in the ICU for a few days...and until now he spends 4+ hrs in a dialysis center 3x/week as his kidney functions have not fully returned.

So I guess it is understandable if we are a little bit apprehensive as we sleep tonight...but we do know it needs to be done because cytoxan is proven to be very effective in the treatment of myeloma, and the sooner it is re-introduced, the greater the chance of healing.  

In a way, it is a good thing that he is on dialysis because whatever cells that are blasted will get dialysed in less than 24 hrs, hopefully enough time to prevent another shock to his system...although the doctors have said that tumor lysis has never happened twice to the same person -- it only happens in the beginning of some blood cancers because of the very high level of cancer cells that are present, but would not be the case in the next cycle...then again, Buddy is one in a million, so you never know cos tumor lysis never happened with myeloma patients either...

This last week has been awesome for Buddy and all of us. He is generally taking the chemo treatment well and has been able to walk around a bit more.  On his birthday I baked brownies for him to give to his dialysis nurses. But before going to the center, the kids and I went with him to a Hyundai showroom, then went shopping while waiting for him to finish because he wanted new shoes (DSW!). After dialysis, we stopped by the Dodge and Honda showrooms. When we got home, we had pizza, Mom Linda's pancit and cake with the Festins. He was also able to Facetime with a few relatives. Before he went to bed that night, he told me he had a great day...

Over the weekend, 2 cousins flew from California - Vince and Aldo and we all had a blast barbecuing, eating and talking for 2 straight days.  Mike even drove in on Sunday to join us for Buddy's post-birthday week-end.

Today, on the way to the doctor I told him he seems stronger now than before we left Manila...and he agreed.  He usually drives to where our schedule is and then I drive back home or to wherever he wants to go (the GPS is my best friend and security blanket). He started taking physical therapy sessions once a week and is challenged to do more each day.  His heart continues to have a funky rhythm because the amyloid is already there, and the combination of medicines changes every week depending on what symptoms are acting up.  He takes his "bag" with him almost everywhere, which contains his medications, blood pressure monitor, thermometer, tissues, etc.

His kidneys are functioning again but not enough to get him off dialysis.  The 4+ hours every other day in the dialysis center are really depressing especially since he is surrounded by people who are at least 30 years older, all getting dialysed.  So getting his kidneys back in working condition will be a huge load off his already heavy burden.

But despite all of this, we are all okay, really.  Everyone is coping with and adjusting to the sudden change in lifestyle.  We are thankful for all that we have and always remind ourselves that we almost didn't even have this...and really, it could be so much worse.

Here are a few pics from the past week...

Luis tried, was forced to actually, to mow the lawn for the 1st time...with Uncle John Vonhof as mentor...

Dinner on Bud's birthday, May 22...Steve Pohlen also dropped-in for some pancit...

Bud's Birthday Weekend (a.k.a Memorial Day Weekend)...a 2-day feastravaganza featuring food by Vince Verde and entertainment provided by Aldo Mojica...

That's it for now...thanks again for all the prayers and well-wishes being sent our way...praying for smooth sailing ahead...



  1. Dear Buddy,

    I must comment that your pictures last weekend were the best I’ve seen in your ‘Journey’. Pure joy shines all over you. You certainly don’t look and act like a patient, more so when I find from Ria that you can even drive in your present state.

    Look at my own condition. I cannot even walk without leaning on my male nurse who hovers over me most of the time. I won’t be able to munch the barbecued food that was served you last weekend and will have difficulty swallowing it. But I guess each of us has limitations of our own.

    It is also good to know from Ria that there is the possibility that you will be off dialysis if all work well and I pray that it does.

    I hope your forthcoming weekends will be as fabulous as the last. Tell Ria I miss her delectable cakes and I hope she’ll be able to bake one for me on my own birthday. Tell her also that her devotedness to your getting healed is most admirable to say the least.

    Please also convey to your indomitable Mom and Dad my fondest regards.

    Tito Ben

  2. Thanks for the updates and for sharing all the happy news! I'm sure it was an extra-special birthday celebration. How long did Luis actually mow the lawn? Is he re-evaluating the pros and cons of living in the US? Haha! We continue to pray for all of you. Take care. - Trinna

  3. Great to see you, the kids, especially Buddy ,having a good time. We still pray for eventual healing. Buddy looks awesome, no signs of illness.... Sheila

  4. Armando looks good!Thanks goodness!


  5. yeay, for God's healing. hugs to everyone.

  6. belated birthday greetings, buddy! may our Almighty continue to touch you with His healing hands.