Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today is Palm Sunday and although our family traditionally celebrates Easter on Easter Sunday, this year we decided to move it up a bit due to the fact that Charlie is sheduled for a chemo session this coming Thursday. So well all gathered at Kim and Charlie's to celebrate the holiday.

There were 10 of us family, my husband myself and our 2 children, my Aunt Ann, cousin Carol, my other Aunt Ann her husband my Uncle Ed and of course...Kim and Charlie. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by our host and hostess. It was so good to see Charlie back in the kitchen again. He made one of his famous recipes, a hugely well received green bean recipe he so openly stole from our cousin Sandy years ago!!! We also had ham and some homemade pierogies, along with a wonderful dessert of pineapple upside down cake. Charlie enjoyed everything and at least two pieces of cake after dinner.

When I spoke with Charlie to ask how he's feeling, he said good but tired. He is finding it very frustrating to not have the energy to do things like preparing a meal in the kitchen or even taking a walk around the house to follow the kids on their Easter egg hunt. He said..."how much T.V. can you watch?" Well if you posed that question to my two kids the answer would be "what do you mean?" He is loosing his hair, very thin right now, you can see his scalp. The mustache is still in tact...although Charlie claims it is thinning out!

Kim did confide in me at the end of last week that Charlie is beginning to feel a bit depressed...most likely due to his lack of energy. I'm sure the gloomy weather is not helping! Despite being a little low in spirits, Charlie is looking good. He even has a Buddha belly which he is blaming on the steroids he has been getting. Last week Charlie had an MRI of his spine done and he should get the results when he goes back for chemo this week. Keep all those fingers, arms, legs and toes crossed that it is decent news. Dr. Potz also plans to schedule Charlie for PET scan in the not too distant future.

Again...please keep both Kim and Charlie in your prayers especially during this most holy of weeks. I know our prayers are heard and they do make a difference. Thanks and I will update Charlie's progress after I hear from him on Friday!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

As of today teams "Charlie Brown" and "Charlie Brown Friends" have raised a combinded total of $1420 for the American Cancer Society in the Wissahickon Relay for Life event in May!!!


Friday, March 26, 2010


In order to survive, grow, or spread, tumors need a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients, which they get by creating their own network of blood vessels. This process is called angiogenesis (an’-gee-o-jen’-i-sis). Avastin is thought to work by blocking a protein released by both normal cells and cancer cells that helps cause angiogenesis. This protein is called VEGF and is produced throughout the life of the tumor. By controlling the growth of blood vessels, Avastin can starve your cancer of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow and spread. This is why Avastin is a tumor-starving therapy.
"we are survivors from the moment of diagnosis" ~ the national cancer institute

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love with all your heart, smile with all your might, laugh with all your friends and enjoy all the little gifts that come to you everyday!!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

As of March 22, 2010

Sorry it's been awhile since I posted anything on Charlie but actually that is a good thing.

To update...Charlie has been feeling very well over the last week. So well in fact he went golfing yesterday and made it through all 18 holes!!! Fantastic!!!

He said that his recovery from his chemo sessions still are taking about 4-5 days until he begins to feel like doing things. When I spoke with Charlie he told me that the one thing he cannot do while recouping from these sessions is to sit down in the morning right after breakfast. He said he just falls to sleep and looses the whole morning!!! I could probably do that too but I didn't say anything to Charlie! :)

His blood work again last week was great...continuing that strong trend!!! This weekend we are celebrating Easter on Palm Sunday because Charlie is due for his next round of chemo on Holy Thursday. Charlie is revving up for a big feast though...I think he is shooting for the 20lb mark with his weight gain!!!! Also it will be interesting to see Charlie without the mustache!!! He said it began falling out over the last week...I don't think I have ever seen his upper lip in the 20+ years I have known him...I will take pictures of that upper lip because I am sure once the chemo is over and his hair starts growing in...that old mustache will be back!!!

So only good news to report this week. A some point soon Charlie will begin his radiation treatments on the two new areas found on his last Cat Scan...I will keep you all posted!!!Please good thoughts and prayers are really making a difference keep 'em a commin!!!

Thank you for your interest and support...signing off!!!

March 12, 2010

Yesterday Charlie went for another long day of chemotherapy. His blood work was drawn and everything looked very good. There was a slight spike in his white blood cell count (WBC) it was up around 21,000, but that can be because of the steroids Charlie was given pretreatment. But the best news of all is that his CAT scan report was very good and the oncologist told Kim and Charlie that there is a "DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT" in what the scan shows, Actually some of the tumors/lesions had disappeared all together. But he also told them that Charlie is not out of the woods yet. There are 2 new areas that the oncologist wants to treat aggressively with more radiation therapy.

Despite that little bit of news regarding the new findings, Kim and Charlie were just thrilled with the results. In addition, Charlie not only gained back the 10 lbs he initially lost, but also packed on an additional 6 lbs!!!

In Kim's words..."It was a good day."

March 5, 2010

Today I am going to tell you what Charlie did two days ago.

According to Kim, Charlie went out for lunch with his friend Chris on Wednesday. After lunch they decided to play a round of pool. As they were playing, another customer approached Charlie and his friend requesting a game with the winner...well Charlie beat Chris then went on to beat this other player...not bad for a guy with is it!!! Afterwards Charlie went to the gym for his work out!!! I suppose he didn't flex his muscles enough at the pool hall!

Kim also said Charlie made an incredible meatloaf last night for dinner!!! Always a good sign!

Today Charlie is headed back down to Abington for his CAT scan at 1pm. Also, as of three days ago, Charlie is off all his pain meds...he said "if I'm not having pain then I don't need any medication do I?" Hopefully Iwill get the chance to see both of them this weekend because we are headed down to good old Glenside to attend the annual St Luke's spaghetti supper!!!

Oh and one more thing...Kim said Charlie is now unable to zip up his jeans due to a 12-15lb weight gain!!!! I told her I will be glad to donate 10 lbs to the cause!!! Don't we all wish we could do that???

That's all for now...keep the prayers and well wishes looks like they are working overtime for Charlie!!!

March 1, 2010

"It takes courage to have hope."

I spoke with Kim last night and she told me that some of the pain Charlie was experiencing from one of the drugs he's getting, has finally begun to subside over the weekend. He is also feeling a bit more energy and is able to do just a little bit more each day that goes by.

Both Kim and Charlie are fighting to stay positive. Each new day has it's set of challenges, but also brings with it renewed hope. Kim was just telling me about the two little girls who live across the street. They bring Charlie homemade cards every 10 days or so. One of the most recent cards he recieved had this to say. "Dear Mr. Charlie... You are one of the bravest people I know".As you go through your days and the routines that go with them, please remember Charlie in your thoughts and know how brave he is as he journeys thru this incredibly difficult time. Also please say your prayers for Kim...she too is a brave soldier, ever standing by Charlie's side, never wavering not even for a split second!

February 25, 2010

Kim just called and Charlie had his blood work done today and it has been resulted already.
His WBC (4.5 -10.5) is actually at 17.7 way above normal range. This is good because it is keeping his immune system protected from all the" bad bugs" that may come down the pike. Also his RBC is high but the doc said that is due to some of the drugs he is getting, I believe, to help red blood cell production Kim said Charlie was having a lot of pain yesterday, but again, according to the docs, this is good b/c it means that the regenerative drug he's getting (I think Kim said to support his bone marrow) is also working.

They did go to Fox Chase Cancer Center yesterday for a second opinion but left a little disappointed. Evidently Fox Chase did not have a lot to offer them. In fact, some of the treatment Charlie is getting at Abington, like pretreatment of the brain to protect it from metastasis, they would not necessarily do at Fox Chase. The reason why they sought a second opinion was to make certain that Charlie is receiving all that he can at this point ...and I think they got their answer.

Thank you for caring enough to follow the blog...also thank you for the prayers and well wished. It is really tough right now on both Kim and Charlie...but as in the words of Christopher Reeves "Once you Choose hope anything is possible" We just need make sure they know we love support them and not let anyone take away any of our hope!!!

February 23, 2010

Today I spoke with Charlie and he sounded well. He said each day after his last chemo session he feels a little better, a little stronger and little bit more energy. Tomorrow Kim and Charlie are headed over to Fox Chase Cancer Center for consultation as a second opinion. They are not really sure if the recommended treatment there will differ from what Charlie is already getting at Abington Hospital, but they feel like it couldn't hurt to see what Fox Chase has to say.

On Thursday Charlie will go for more blood work...keep your fingers crossed that is continues to look as well as it did last week!Charlie is still getting to the gym, but he admits that it is hard for him on some of the equipment these days. He is having some joint pain from the medication along with a feeling of restless legs. But all in all he says he is doing pretty well for the most part. I will try to make another entry on Friday after they see the docs at Fox Chase.

Keep the prayers and good thoughts coming!!!

As of February 19, 2010

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible." ~ Christopher Reeves

Charlie had his 6+ hours of chemo yesterday and all went well. His oncologist, Dr. Potz, was extremely pleased with the looks of Charlie's blood work.

To give you a few stats:Blood pressure...110 over 70 (Beautiful!!!)
White blood cell count (normal range 4.5-10.5)
Charlie's was at 10Hemaglobin (normal range 11-18)
Charlie's was at 12.1Platelets (normal range 150-450) Charlie's was at 297!

Dr. Potz was also very surprised when Charlie told him he has been going regularly to the gym! He told them that was great that Charlie felt well enough to do that. As of last night Charlie ate a full dinner although he was warned that he may start to feel some nausea and possibly have some periods of getting sick to his stomach. This due to the chemo but also because the radiation he received is still at work in his body.

Charlie is currently holding his own with that one. Also he has officially gained back the 10 lbs he lost after his diagnosis!!! Another great sign!!Please keep the prayers and good thoughts coming. They all are deeply appreciated.

Diagnosis Date January 14, 2010

In January 2010, my brother-in-law Charlie was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He has what is called an adenocarcinoma most likely arising from the lining of his lung. Charlie has a smoking history so that is why the docs believe that is it point of origin. Areas of metastases include his liver and bone. What prompted Charlie to go to his physician in the first place was a nagging pain he had in the front of his chest. It actually got so bad that he began taking days off from work...something I have never know Charlie to do. His primary doc took a chest x-ray most likely revealing the lung tumors and bone mets...he then directed Charlie to the local emergency room for further work up.

Upon his arrival in the ER...Charlie had blood drawn and was sent for a Cat Scan. The scan was then followed up with an MRI and he had a subsequent bone biopsy of the right hip, ultimately this provided the preliminary diagnosis of stage a 4 cancer. Unfortunately Charlie, to this point, had been seen by several residents and other health care professionals, and although no one actually told him he had the "c" was constantly being tossed around as if he had already been given the diagnosis. My sister, Kim, and Charlie were just hit in the face with the word "Cancer". You see all kinds of sayings about cancer and that it is a word and not a sentence...but when you are confronted with it...all you are able to see is the worse case scenario. Finally, 2 days after his admission to the hospital, Charlie and Kim met with the oncologist and the final word was cancer stage 4.

He was immediately put on a drug therapy to help regenerate bone that Charlie had lost to the metastatic Cancer in his spine and hip. It is called a bisphosphonate. He was given a port-o-catheter (Small port with a catheter inserted into the subclavian vein for the purpose of giving medications without having to repeatedly do peripheral IV lines) prior to his initial release from the hospital. Unfortunately with in the next week, Charlie was back in the hospital with a complaint of shortness of breath. Upon his return to the hospital the surgeons had to place a chest tube into the pleural space of his right lung to help re expand it because it had collapsed due to the port procedure the previous week. Once the lung was expanded Charlie felt a world better and he was able to go home after 4 days of hospitalization.

As of mid February....Charlie completed all his radiation therapy sessions. He will continue with his chemotherapy adding more chemo drugs to his regime as time goes on. The drugs that I know he is receiving are: Carboplatin, Taxol and Avastin. Charlie has been going to the gym fairly regularly; doing 20 minutes on the bike and 10 on the treadmill. He feels better that he has even before his diagnosis. Pain has been reduced and his energy has increased. Kim did tell me that she thinks that he is starting to loose his hair now. Good thing he has that swell "Cancer Sucks" knitted cap to keep his head warm as we finish out this crazy cold winter.I will continue to add information on a regular basis...please feel free to check in as often as you like and make any comments to encourage Charlie so he knows you are all in his corner. We will fight this and we will win...the world needs more people like Charlie in we all have to fight to keep him here!!

Thanks so much and look for more updates in the future!!