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Whole Brain Radiation

Aaron's MRI showed too much cancer progression in his brain and now if he wants to qualify for the Huntsman drug trial he has to do whole brain radiation. This is something he has tried to avoid from the beginning because of the effect it can have on a person's cognitive abilities, but we really don't have many choices at this point so on to radiation it is. He begins today and will have a radiation session every day for 15 days with weekends off.
He will receive lower doses of radiation to the whole brain in order to kill the cancer we cannot see and he will receive higher doses of radiation that will be targeted at actual lesions in the brain that can be seen on the mri.  We hope this treatment style will reduce memory problems often associated with whole brain radiation. The actual type of radiation treatment is called tomotherapy and one of the nice things about it is that it avoids the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with emotions and memory.

Aaron'…
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A few Hiccups

Aaron wasn't able to begin the new treatment last week because he needs an MRI and that MRI got scheduled the end of this week and then we had a blessing that got that appointment moved up to tomorrow. I am a little nervous about this MRI because a lot of drug trials are picky about cancer activity in the brain. The drug trial he did two years ago kicked him out when they saw a spot on his brain. Aaron's cancer has moved to the brain, we saw this on the last MRI, but this drug trial will compare tomorrow's MRI with the one he had the end of July and if the cancer seems stable we can go ahead with the treatment this Thursday. The past few weeks have been a good reminder to me to practice "being still". Other then that I think we have all the other tests completed to qualify.

Drug Trial

Thank you for your prayers and fasting and words of love and encouragement. We have most definitely felt the power of your faith.

Aaron doesn't have the genetic marker we were most hoping for (MET) but he does have the marker that qualifies him for the drug trial at Huntsman. We are grateful he has an option besides chemo. Aaron will be the only person in Utah in the drug trial and the doctor is really excited about it. In the Petri dish, in mice, and in theory this treatment works, but the real test will be if it works in Aaron. We are about finished with all the requirements to get into the study (scans, eye exam, blood tests, etc) and he will begin this Thursday. He does have to have another lung biopsy shortly after he begins and then again at the end when he shows signs of progression on the drug. My hope is this drug will work and work long enough for there to be another good option besides chemo. Maybe in the meantime Aaron will develop MET (because it is an acquired geneti…

Asking For Your Faith and Prayers

This is Aaron's sister Alison posting. Last week on Tuesday morning, Aaron had a lung biopsy done.  Like his previous biopsy, this one also resulted in a collapsed lung. He was in quite a bit of pain that day and through the night. On Wednesday his lung was able to seal itself, and he was able to come home Wednesday night. Aaron deals with his pain such a quiet way. He doesn't complain, he just bears it. And I don't know how, but he manages to think of others when he's suffering himself. I'm sure I don't need to tell you all how remarkable he is! There's no one quite like Aaron.

Lorraine texted the family today with a request that we pray and fast for Aaron. We felt that there would be many people out there who would like to join with us, so we'd like to share the invitation to all who would like to join in a special fast for Aaron this weekend.  Here is part of Lorraine's text:


"I don't know for certain what to ask everyone to pray for bu…

New Scans

Aaron had his first scans since starting the immunotherapy drug Keytruda. The results aren't good. There has been a definite increase in tumor size and quantity. The report says there are innumerable tumors in the lungs as opposed to the couple that we have been watching. It's also in the bones and lymph nodes. He didn't have an MRI and so we don't know what the cancer looks like in his brain. Most likely there is more there too. This report is surprising to us because Aaron has been feeling better these days.

We are hopeful he can get a needle biopsy this week and praying it doesn't collapse his lung like it did after the last biopsy. Drug trials are our only option at this time, and we can't really move on any trials because they all require a washout period (usually 4 weeks) and this biopsy, which can take up to three weeks to get the results. We hope to have the drug trials researched and one chosen so when the results are in we can move quickly into a new …

Immunotherapy

It seems like things keep changing faster than I can keep up. Aaron started a new chemo, Gemzar, in April, but after two months of it, scans showed there was definite cancer progression in his lungs. He then completed the four week washout period (a specified amount of time you have to be off all cancer treatment drugs in order to qualify for certain drug trials) and then decided that instead of a drug trial consisting of two immunotherapy drugs combined, he would stick with the one immunotherapy drug, Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) that is as simple as going to the dr. office and running it through his port. The drug trial required a total of three needle biopsies over the course of his treatment. His biopsy,about two years ago, was painful and went from an outpatient procedure to a week-long stay at Huntsman Cancer Center. Drug trials also require a lot more dr. visits and tests, and in the case of the Huntsman drug trial a lot more side effects. Aaron just isn't up to all those thin…

Options

Aaron has consulted with five oncologists and the good news is he still has multiple options. He can choose between two chemos from different families than he has used before and three drug trials. We have a few concerns about the drug trials. First, they all require a needle biopsy and the last one Aaron had caused his lung to collapse and landed him in the hospital for a week. Second, he doesn't have a tumor large enough to get a good sample. Third, we would have to potentially wait for two weeks for results of the biopsy and another week before starting a drug trial. Since Aaron has not received any treatment for his cancer for nearly two months he has opted to do another chemo. He will start next week. We are hoping this chemo will help him feel well enough to do a needle biopsy and lay the groundwork for doing a drug trial (we would really like to try a few of the ones available).  His drug trial options are at Huntsman, Dana Farber in Boston, and UC Davis in Sacramento. Bos…