Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Here's a chemo recap for those of you keeping track of numbers:  Matt was originally scheduled for 12 treatments (6 rounds) of ABVD.  In between his third and fourth treatment, he had his PET scan which showed no evidence of disease and he was officially in remission.  As a result, his local oncologist agreed to shorten his chemo course to 10 treatments. 

Setting aside the fact that the experience of having chemo is miserable, it also does permanent damage to your heart and lungs (and hearts have proven themselves to check out early in our family).  Because people actually survive Hodgkin's Disease, there are many more considerations of quality of life longterm that are starting to be taken into account.  Matt and Mom did quite a bit of looking around and talking to people from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as well as his original oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa to see what the most current research protocols advise in this situation.  Current research states that complete remission plus two rounds achieves the goal of ridding the cancer cells from the body while minimizing the longterm effects of the ABVD concoction.

Thus, two days before Christmas, Matt had his final chemo treatment (although he didn't know that at the time).  He had a PET scan late last week to make sure everything was clear (it was!).  His port is being removed tomorrow, and he can say an official good riddance to the shitty second half of 2009.

Yes, he still looks like a cancer patient because of the dearth of hair.  But he feels...fantastic.  One of the common longterm effects of treatment is fatigue, but Matt feels energetic (although I think some of that may have to do with the fact that the typical oppressive Florida heat has given way to pleasant, cooler tempteratures these last couple of weeks). 

Has he changed?  Yes, in a huge way.  Close friends and family will not believe this, but he has not had a single. bowl. of. cereal. since he began treatment back in September.  Matt has been known to artfully mold a towering mound of cereal into a bowl, packing it gently to avoid any precious pieces from falling.  My parents singlehandedly kept Costco in business in the 90s from cereal purchases alone.

What he has been eating will also shock you.  Healthy stuff, thanks to the awesome Vita-Mix and Excalibur Dehydrator (and his awesome wife, Bodia!).  Keep in mind, when I told my brother last spring that Sam and I were thinking of participating in a community supported agriculture program, he scoffed at the idea and called me a dirty hippie.  I am excited for my new and improved brother, although I don't expect him to be purchasing a pair of Birkenstocks anytime soon.  (I highly doubt they come in a size 16 anyway!)

This blog will return to my mundane ramblings about life with my boys.  So, Matt's friends?  It was nice having you here, and you can return to your lives happily ignorant of my comings and goings.

Cancer, don't even try to make your way back into our family again.  In fact, you can stay the hell away from my friends and their children as well.  There's too many good things to focus on in this life, and I don't have the desire to give you one second of my time from here on out.  Good riddance.


  1. Amen! Hooray for Matt and for you! What a relief, Annie.

  2. I'm so glad this story had a happy outcome Annie! I laughed about the Birkenstocks. My family accuses me of being a dirty hippie too. What do they know?

  3. Very few people know the incredible effort you put forth in not only doing the tireless research to find the best possible approaches in order to tackle this disease, but how willingly you pursued this task with boundless love as you too worried about Matthew. You made us laugh with the creative way you related his struggle and you made us cry with all the love that came through your stories. Thank you for it all Annie! It will be a pleasure to now just read about the trials of motherhood and the wonderful journey you and Sam will have with my beautiful grandchildren.
    We love you!