In Honor of My Husband, Ron

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Palliative care...

"Palliative care (from Latin palliare, to cloak) is any form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than striving to halt, delay or reverse progression of the disease itself or provide a cure". We have now entered the palliative portion of Ron's care. We met with the MO on Thursday morning. He said that the PET scan showed that the main tumor, in Ron's right cheek, which was less than 1 cm. on April 9, is now about 5 cm. In addition, there is involvement in his left neck nodes, and his trachea. What this boils down to is that there is no longer a surgical or radiation option. Ron started Erbitux that morning. The first infusion lasted about 3 hours, but the remaining weekly infusions will only take about an hour. Erbitux is a form of chemotherapy called targeted therapy. It actually is a highly active IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Erbitux has been well proven to shrink tumors. This is the goal of Ron's care at this point. We would like to be able to buy as much quality time as we can. We all accept that Ron will not be cured of this horrible cancer. There is a possibility that it may have metastasized to his brain. He will go for a brain MRI on Tuesday afternoon. He has been having a lot of bad headaches lately, but we don't know why. After his first Erbitux treatment, he was completely wiped out. I hope that he will be able to handle them better in the future. He is now on Fentanyl patches in addition to his Roxicet for pain. This seems to have really helped so far. He also used the Fentanyl patches when he was going through treatment in 2005, and they worked very well in controlling his pain. Ron did throw up in the middle of the night after the first treatment, so he also started taking Compazine for nausea.
Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. With palliative care, we are still doing whatever treatment we can to keep Ron well for as long as possible. We are not ready to give up yet! If Ron reaches that point then we will involve hospice, but hopefully that won't be for a long, long time. The MO told us that with the Erbitux, patients who get an acne-like rash are responding well to the treatment, so pray for pimples!


Anonymous said...

Hi Lori,
I've been afraid that one day I might hear of this news. Our hearts go out to all of you at this difficult time. Please call if you need to talk. Tell Ron we're thinking of him and take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lori,
Stumbled across your blog via the OCF forums. I feel so much love for you & Ron, just from reading this blog. My heart is with you guys, and I certainly haven't given up hope.