Some thoughts on living and dying.

Month: December, 2012

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

We don’t have any new results to report. 

We’ll spend Monday morning at MSK with my docs.  Then Monday afternoon with Ginny’s doc. 

A heck of a way to ring in a new year.


Two weeks ago Ginny’s doctor’s office in Richmond told us the needle biopsy to her neck revealed no cancer.  We were, of course, relieved.  Earlier this week, the doctor called to say he still wanted to schedule a surgical biopsy because the lump was large and dense.  While we were visiting one of my Sloan Kettering doctors, we asked him to take a look at it.  By the end of the next day, Ginny’s had four needle biopsies and an initial assessment:  this looked malignant.

They wanted to schedule CT scans right away, but couldn’t because of Ginny’s allergies to some meds.  So we’ve now got an appointment at MSK at 7:45 a.m. Monday, Christmas Eve. We’ll see what happens from there.


I passed the final test.  I’m approved for the drug trial at Sloan Kettering.

Of course, the other tests I’ve taken–C Scans, ECGs, etc. are now out of date.  So I’ll be spending Christmas week in and out of MSK. 

Still,this is good news.

Have a merry Christmas.


If it’s not one Hughes, it’s another.

I felt better Wednesday than I had in months.  I climbed a flight of stairs without a violent breathing attack for the first time in a long time.

Then Ginny’s surgeon in Richmond called.  He’d given us great news last week:  a needle biopsy revealed that the lump on Ginny’s neck did not show any cancer.  But he was still concerned about the size and density of the lump and wants to do a surgical biopsy when we returned to Richmond. 

Later in the day we visited a head and neck doctor at Sloan Kettering about one of my minor problems.  (You can feel free to consider jokes about my “head problems.”….Finished?  Good.) We asked this new doc to take a look at Ginny’s neck.  We’re now scheduled to meet with him tomorrow. 

We’ll let you know more when we know more.  We’re optimistic.

This is more like it.

I feel hugely better today.  What a difference.


Dec. 18. A little disheartening.


We won’t know for another week if I qualify for the test–and the earliest I could start is now Jan. 3.  Turns out they didn’t get enough tissue during the biopsy to run the test.  They did, however, get enough tissue during the bronchoscopy, so now they’re submitting that for testing.

Recovery on the other fronts continues sluggishly.  I haven’t been out of the apartment since last Thursday night, but I suppose I’m getting better.  (It’s kind of interesting:  my symptoms don’t get worse or much better, but they do change.  For the past 36 hours, I’ve added hiccups to my delightful medley of maladies.)

Dec. 17. Still recovering.

Long weekend.  I was told to expect a sore throat after the bronchoscopy, if I had one, I didn’t notice it.  But much coughing, some nausea, only short periods of sleep.  General discomfort.  I’m still going through that, but I am getting better. 

Ginny has been amazing.  Ella had her hopping all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then she stayed up with me most of the night.  Good to see Ella, Jason & Carley yesterday, but I wasn’t very good company. 

We’re still waiting to hear if I’m going to start the drug trial on Wed.  One test result still has to come in.  Once again, fingers crossed.

Dec. 14. Recovering.

A couple of weeks ago, I got the very discouraging news that the pulmonary team in Richmond had no suggestions for opening my restricting breathing passage. 

Today, I am breathing 100% better.  The fabulous doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering get the credit. 

Last Friday Dr. Karen Brown at MSK was examining me for the lung biopsy she’d be giving me Monday.  I whined to her that I’d been told nothing could be done about my breathing problem.  She said, “Baloney” *–and immediately called my MSK oncologist, Dr. Gregory Riely, who immediately set up an appointment with Dr. Mohit Chawla, the movie-star-like director of interventional pulmonology and co-director of the complex airway program. I met him Wednesday afternoon, and by Thursday afternoon he was roto-rootering my passageway.  I woke up from the operation very uncomfortable–but breathing like I hadn’t breathed in a year.  It was wonderful.

I’m still a little uncomfortable, still drowsy and still coughing up a little blood now and then.  There’s a little rattling in my chest, but I think (I hope) that’s just the mucus and blood that I’ve still got to cough up.  (More than you care to know?)

*Dr. Brown is a firebrand.  On Tiuesday, she took the all-wrong schedule we’d been given for our Monday appointments and was clearly on the warpath.  Who knows?  Maybe she’ll actually straighten out the scheduling procedures at the hospital.


Dec. 12. Sloan Kettering. Part II.

I’m now scheduled for a bronchoscopy tomorrow.  I’m excited about that:  there’s a chance it’ll help with the breathing problems I’ve had lately. 

Dec. 12 Sloan Kettering

More blood work, tests, etc. this morning.

Looks like I’m having a pulmonary “procedure” tomorrow, but I don’t meet the pulmonologist until later this afternoon.  I did meet with the anesthesiologist this morning.  Lots of questions again about my sleep apnea.  Which I don’t have and have never had. 

Lots of questions about my meds, dosages, etc.  Thank God Ginny was there. 

Still not sure if I’ll get into either of the chemo trials.  If I do, I might start next Thursday, the 20th.  That would be good.





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