All Aboard The Crazy Train!

Cancer is a WILD RIDE! Strap in!

What a crazy week!  We were all super excited about this week.  Well, maybe 90% excited and 10% nervous.  We were pumped about Sam’s blood transfusion.  Each week, Sam gets weaker and more tired.  There’s nothing fun about acting like a sloth.

We were assured that the transfusion of two pints of blood would boost his energy.  We were also told that there shouldn’t be any problems with the transfusion.  I think the exact words were, “I mean it’s rare, but it does happen.”  We had an early start for the blood transfusion so the minute the blood started flowing (slowly dripping), we turned the lights out to sleep.  About two hours later, a nurse came in to remove the empty bag and hang a new pint of blood.  She turned on the lights and whoooooa!  We had a problem.  Sam was covered in hives!

This was only the beginning of the craziness.  Sam was injected with multiple rounds of steroids and Benadryl to try to eliminate the hives and control his adverse reaction to the transfusion.  It took over three hours for Sam’s new look to revert  back to regular ol’ Sam.  The good news was that he was hive-free, but the bad news was that Sam was unable to receive the second pint of blood.  Rats.  If they would have only kept the lights off!  We entered the hospital at 7:00 am and left around 5:30 pm feeling pretty defeated, confused, and frustrated.  Even though a total breakout of hives is not good, we knew that Sam needed the blood.  On the way home, Sam looked at me and said, “How do we even begin to explain what happened today?”

After spending all day Wednesday at the hospital, we were right back at Vanderbilt at 7:00 on Thursday morning.  We really needed good news.  By 7:30 on Thursday morning, we finally heard something that we wanted to hear!  We went over Sam’s most recent MRI with the musculoskeletal oncologist.  Here it is.

How AWESOME is this:

What's Up Now Stupid Cancer!

Sam’s cancer has responded well (awesomely) to the chemotherapy.  Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for any better news.  This was everything the doctors were hoping for.  His surgery is scheduled for August 3rd.  His surgery will be an intense surgery, but the doctors don’t anticipate any complications.  He will have a majority of his right clavicle removed; some of his rotator cuff cut out, and the doctors aren’t going to be shy about taking out other muscles in the surrounding area.  Here’s some more awesome news:  the surgeon said that Sam should be able to do EVERYTHING that he was able to do before the surgery.  It’ll be several months before Sam is at full strength, but at least we know that the surgery isn’t going to stop him from one day carrying two pizzas and a case of beer up the stairs.  Sam and I were so relieved to hear this.  We’ve been worried for months that we’d have to permanently cancel our friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) racquetball games and put away our mountain bikes forever.  We definitely have a long road ahead of this, but this was the best news we’ve received in a long time.

Just to refresh your memory, this is the plan to cure Sam’s cancer:

We met with the oncologist after meeting with the surgeon and there’s no doubt that she was perplexed by Sam’s reaction to his transfusion.  Sam needed more blood in order to have five days of treatment next week.  What a conundrum!  A team of oncologists, blood bank employees, and people from The Red Cross all got together on Thursday afternoon to determine what might have caused the problem.  I like to refer to Sam as, “a mound of paperwork.”  They all determined that the blood that he received was close to the expiration date and the almost expired blood could have grown something that Sam was allergic to.  Huh?!?!  I guess that’s their specialty, so we’ll go with what they said.  They scheduled Sam for another transfusion on Friday and he is only allowed to have the freshest blood.  Sam deserves the finest even if it is just a bag of blood.

The transfusion today went a lot smoother.  Sam was given steroids at the beginning of his transfusion and they ran the blood very slowly so they could monitor him closely.  He should feel great this weekend.

Calling All O Negatives!

Sam’s blood type is O Negative.  This is a rare blood type.  O Negative is the universal donor, but Sam can only receive O Negative blood.  If you happen to read this blog, live in the Nashville area, and have O Negative blood; please go to The Red Cross and donate.  You will be handsomely rewarded with soda and cookies after you donate.  If you have no idea what blood type you are, please donate anyway.  The Red Cross has a great website that answers any questions you might have about blood donation.  Cancer patients need a lot of transfusions.  Even if you don’t directly help Sam, somebody will feel a lot better after receiving your blood.

More From Our Wacky World

Sam and I are both enjoying his baldness.  We spend a lot of time trying different looks.  These past few weeks,  he has worn a straw hat or a headband.  We don’t go out in public very often, but when we do, it’s a total trip.  Sam has no shame.

When Sam wears his straw hat, I call him a struggling hair farmer.

The Headband Look!

Actually, we both dress like Richard Simmons these days.

Our Latest Nonsense Purchase!

We recently purchased a Kitty Cam!  We spend so much time at the hospital and we decided that it’d be nice to know what’s going on at our home.  We’re able to watch the action live from our computers and we even caught the two of them fighting!  Bad cats!

Check out what goes on while we’re away.  Please forgive the mess.  It’s been a really long week:  Video download link


Sleeping is a vital part of recovery.  Someone or some kitty is always sleeping in our apartment.   Look at Sam, Theo, and BB in (non-)action: Video download link

A Shout-Out To The Mommas!

Thank you both for ALWAYS filling our refrigerator with delicious food, doing our stinky laundry, and helping us in every possible way you can.  We know you worry constantly and work really hard to make our lives comfortable.  I don’t think we could function without the two of you and your superhero superpowers!

This week wore on our patience, but even three full days at the hospital on our “off week” can’t overshadow the news about Sam’s cancer diminishing.  Sam will receive chemotherapy Monday through Friday next week.

We’ve got a long week ahead of us and we’ll need to start getting into surgery mode.  We’ll update the blog in two weeks before his surgery.  Thank you all for reading this blog.

Also, thank you to everyone for helping us so much.  I always look around the hospital and know that Sam is the luckiest cancer patient and I am the luckiest wife of a cancer patient.  Your support is what carries us through our tiring days, sadness, and rapidly changing schedules.  We have such an amazingly intelligent and humorous support system.  You are all our heroes.  We love you.


Thank you for everything,


Sam and Leslie

2 Responses to “All Aboard The Crazy Train!”

  1. 1 Therese July 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Sam and Leslie – you two are the heroes in this chapter of life! And what great news! You both will continue in my prayers. T.

  2. 2 Bonnie August 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Shout out to my cuz,Jackie! Huzzah!!!

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