Friday, September 29, 2006

Remember when I said we hadn't heard about the latest CT scans and we assumed "no news is good news"? I was wrong. Don't get worried, though, everything is fine now.

It all started last Friday (Sept 22nd) when Dr. Masterson called and told Maria "The good news is that Anthony's ribs and lungs look good. The bad news is that the radiologist saw something, a nodule, on his arm." Maria raised a good point and asked why they were looking at his arm. Dr. Masterson said it was just an incidental finding. She told us not to worry, that it looked like it was just a normal thing that happens around Anthony's age, like a cyst on the bone. But we would have to check it out with a bone scan to make sure. Make sure of what, I thought? So I called the clinic. When I talked to Dr. Masterson, she said there is the possibility of it being a second cancer. We scheduled the bone scan for Wednesday, Sept 27th.

I spent all week imagining the worst. I couldn't sleep or eat. I felt sick to my stomach 24 hours a day and couldn't concentrate on anything. The thought did cross my mind, though that the radiologist was trying to get back at me for forcing them to do Anthony's CT scan at University Radiology in New Brunswick (see my last post). Nah...they are supposed to be professionals. Anyway, the day of the bone scan came and Anthony had to get injected with radioactive dye at 9:30 AM. He wasn't too happy and was crying most of the time they were injecting it. He kept saying "Why am I the only one that has to do all this?" I felt like crying myself.

We went back to the Monroe facility of University Radiology at 12:30 PM to get the scan. I told Maria that I was going to try to avoid looking at the screen during the scan. I know how the bone scans work, and if there was cancer anywhere in his bones, it would show up as a glowing spot. I had nightmares that I would look at the screen and see all these glowing spots and realize that the spot they saw on his arm was only the beginning. He did the scan, which took about 45 minutes of lying totally still with a giant plate above his body, just about touching his nose. I'll tell you, though, Anthony is a real trooper. I asked if he wanted to listen to music; he said no. I asked if he wanted to close his eyes so he wouldn't see the machine in front of his face; he said no. He just lay there staring at the cross-hairs on the machine the whole time like some zen master in a trance. He is pretty amazing.

When the scan was over, the technician said: "do you want to see yourself on the screen?" I thought "oh, no...I can't look", but it was impossible not to. With my hands shaking, I looked at the screen and saw the most beautiful sight...nothing. There was my son's skeleton on the screen with no glowing spots where they shouldn't be. I felt a huge wave of relief, but still not quite relaxed. I'm not a radiologist. Maybe there was something I just couldn't see.

We then had to wait to hear from the clinic. We called Wednesday evening and left a message to call us as soon as they knew anything. No call Wednesday. Thursday came. 10 call. 1 call. 3 call. 3:30 PM, Maria calls and says Dr. Masterson called and said the system is down and they can't see the scans. More waiting. 4:10 PM, Maria called and said the clinic phoned again and everything looked great! There was absolutely nothing on the bone scan! Thank God! Not only was the bone scan clear, but they took a closer look at his previous CTs and saw that the same thing was there on many previous scans and it hasn't changed. Really? So why did the radiologist wait until this time to point it out and suggest a follow-up bone scan...hmmm, I wonder?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Has it really been that long since my last update? I just checked the last date and it was way back in March! Sorry for the lack of communication, but as they say: "No news is good news".

Anthony's last check-up was fine. We did CT scan, Chest X-Ray, Echocardiogram, and bloodwork in August. We haven't heard from the clinic about any of the tests, so as usual we take lack of news to mean everything is OK. The only excitement was fighting with the lazy CT technician to get her to do Anthony's scan. She kept saying that they didn't do pediatrics at that location, despite the fact that they saw his birthdate when they made the appointment and the rest of the technicians kept telling her they have no such policy. She said that their machine wasn't fast enough and that kids don't stay still enough to get clear pictures. I told her that Anthony had done CTs many times and always stays perfectly still (probably more still than some of her geriatric patients). Needless to say, Anthony held his breath and stayed very still during the scan and she didn't have to re-scan him at all. She didn't appologize, though.

Besides all the medical stuff, Anthony is doing well. He started school this Monday in the "Academically Talented" program in our town. He seems to like it and is enthusiastic every morning. He loves his baby sister, as do the rest of the kids. They can always entertain her when we are trying to get something done (ah, the advantages of having many children).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Anthony's 2 year post-treatment CT scans and X-rays were clean! We went last Friday to have them done at Jersey Shore Medical Center and then went over to Robert Wood Johnson Cancer Institute for his checkup. Everything went smoothly. Anthony had no problems getting his peripheral line put into his arm and followed all their instructions during the scan including holding his breath. We drove up Rt. 18 from Jersey Shore to RWJUH much earlier than expected, since the scans at Jersey Shore seem to take much, much less time than at RWJUH. We spent about an hour at the clinic and more than half that time Anthony played the Nintendo 64 (as usual).

More exciting news: Dr. Pan said we are now going to move Anthony into the LITE clinic, which stands for Long-term, Information, Treatment effects, and Evaluation. He is being moved to this group because he is 2 years post-treatment (3 years post-diagnosis) and is considered to be cured now!

Our next official milestone will be the 3 year anniversary of diagnosis on April 26 (two days before Sarah's birthday). That is when Dr. LaQuaglia said Anthony would be considered cured, even though he was extremely confident last April that Anthony was already cured. Speaking of Dr. LaQuaglia, we go to see him toward the end of April. This time we will have one extra child to bring to NYC. The kids are excited about Catherine's first trip to the city. We should get more astonished reactions from the Sloan-Kettering staff. "Wow, FOUR kids!" People tend to react as if it were an amazing thing, never done before. It should be fun.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I haven't written in a while since Anthony hasn't had a checkup (and won't have one until the end of February), but there is other news of note: we've added one more child to the clan. Catherine Grace Triolo was born on January 2, 2006 and weighed-in at 5 lbs. 6 oz. The baby and her mother are both doing fine. Me, I'm still hangin' in there after taking care of everyone in the house the week the baby came home. Everyone but me had a stomach virus for a couple of, fun, fun! They are all OK now.

The other 3 kids just can't get enough of the baby. They are always hovering around her bassinet and are asking to hold her. Things haven't been too hectic around the house with all 4 kids present. We've had help from our neighbor Sandy, since she has been taking the kids to the bus stop every morning and taking Sarah to preschool. Thanks, Sandy! Sleeping at night has been a bit of a challenge, though. The baby doesn't sleep too well at night (of course, she sleeps great all day long) and I think her crying disturbs the other kids to the point that they wake out of a deep sleep and start calling me for all kinds of other things..."I'm scared", "I have to go potty", "I need a drink of water", "My bear fell on the floor"... Who needs sleep anyway?