Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

We are enjoying a very nice Christmas Holiday.  The first week and a couple of days after the last chemo infusion weren't great.  However for most of this week I have been feeling reasonably well during the days.  I've been able to go work and feel fairly decent during the days.  There is still some discomfort and pain that comes and goes and occasional body aches and mild nausea, but overall I can say I feel relatively well.

There has been some good news we have received in the meantime.  The TIL (Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes) that were harvested during the surgery at our last visit to the MD Anderson Cancer Center are growing well.  I believe we were told that they have grown to around 400 million cells and they are looking to have a couple of billion cells ready to infuse in February or March.  We are excited about this news for a lot of reasons.  We had a about a 50% chance of actually growing cell, and we won that coin toss, so we like that.  It means the trip, the surgery, and recovery was worth it.  And this now gives us another possible treatment in our quiver with some of the best odds of defeating the melanoma.  This doesn’t mean for sure that we will use this treatment.  If the chemo we are doing now is effective we won’t stop a working treatment to try something else just because the odds are better.  But like I said we’re glad to have that arrow in our quiver.

Yesterday I got to do something that I thought I might not get to do at all this winter.  I got to go skiing!  And those who know me well, know how much I enjoy being on skis.  First thing yesterday morning Curtis picked me up and we met with Lars and Brit and headed out for a backcountry tour into Silver Fork.  It was cold and beautiful and cold, but well worth a few shivers to get out and enjoy the wonderful Wasatch mountains.  We had a great run in the meadow chutes and headed back to the car.  I was slow, and had some significant pain in the pelvis where the tumor remains, but I was very grateful to have the chance just to get out, and especially grateful to Lars, Curtis and Brit for the patience with my slow pace.

After we finished, I met with Allison, Sarah and Cameron who picked me up in the canyon and we headed up to Brighton where we met Uncle Andy, Grandpa Ted and Grandma Charlotte to spend the afternoon riding the lifts and skiing.  Again it was cold, but the kids said they were warm and had a great time skiing with their grandparents and their rockstar skier uncle.

It meant a lot to me yesterday to be able to ski with the kids and to be able to get out into the backcountry.  Here's to lots more days like that in the future.

Heading down the road for treatment, there's quite a bit going on in the next week or so.  Monday (Dec 28) I have new CT scans that will tell us if the current chemo treatment is working.  Following the scans I meet with Dr. Grossmann at HCI to discuss the results of the scans and to map out the next several weeks of treatment.  And then on the following Monday (Jan. 4 - Happy Birthday Laura) I am going back into HCI for another chemo infusion.  I won't know what happens after that until I meet with Dr. Grossmann this week.  

We hope that everybody is enjoying the Christmas season.  We have much to be grateful for not the least of which is the birth of The Child in Bethlehem.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.


Melissa said...

Thanks for the update. So happy to hear you're still enjoying the outdoors. We'll be thinking of you and praying for good news next week. - Missy

Anne said...

Good news all around. Can't wait to hear what they have to say at HCI. As for Hiking has always been too much work for me to ski. I think lifts were invented for a very good reason. Props to you. Merry Christmas!

RLRP said...

So so glad you got to get up into the beautiful and refreshing mountain air. And my heart is lighter thinking of all those wonderful TILs growing - so happy that is going well!

GOWYO said...

Ben & Allison,

We are friends of Laura & Jason's from Jackson. You borrowed our guest room a while back and were very gracious guests. We wanted you to know.... people you don't really know are thinking of you and your family. You have far more positive thoughts heading your way than you can possibly imagine. Try to continue to enjoy the healing powers of mother nature as much as possible. Our best wishes for you and your family. Kind Regards Karen Youngblood & James Peck

Bethany Christensen said...

Ben- I am so glad you got to get out in the mountains last week. Your slow is the rest of our normal speeds (or my fast). I hope this week goes well for you.

Whitney said...

Ben- I hope that Dr. Grossmann delivered news worthy of a new decade. I, like everyone, smile wide imagining you on the slopes. Please know that you are in my thoughts often and that I send you wishes of health.

Be well, my friend.
Love to Al and the kids