The Scan I I Love

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on February 22, 2011
Ira Gershwin at work

One of the most memorable rhymes penned by lyricist Ira Gershwin pairs the words “maybe Tuesday” with the phrase “my good news day.” Well there were no maybes attached to this particular  Tuesday. For me, it was an unqualified good news day.

For the third consecutive time since early December, an MRI scan of my brain showed no progression of disease. My chemotherapy regimen continues to keep the GBM cancer in check. The combination of the drugs Irinotecan and Avastin is working so well, in fact, that my neuro-oncologist has decided to cut back on the frequency of my chemo infusions — from once every two weeks to once every three weeks. That’s huge news for me. Basically, it will give me lots more time to recover from the debilitating side-effects that wipe me out after each infusion. And while I’m at it, I’ll get time to enjoy each precious day of life ven more than I am now.

“Your scan is good,” said Dr. George Bobustuc. “All in all, it is very, very good.”


My day began when my brother, Brian, drove me to Orlando Regional Medical Center to report for the MRI


scan at 7:30 a.m. The first part of the scan was the straight-up imaging of the brain,, followed by a second series of snapshots taken after I was injected with a contrasting dye to highlight areas of enhancement indicating the presence of tumor cells. For whatever reason, my blood vessels weren’t cooperating with the IV needle at first, and  it took the MRI technicians six tries to find a vein that would accept the dye injection. They were mortified that they had to stick me so many times to get it to work. But as I told them, I didn’t mind the pain too much because pain is generally a good indicator that one isn’t dead yet. So as far as I was concerned, my day was already off to a good start.

Dr. Bobustuc

There was only one caveat in Dr. Bobustuc’s report once he had finished reviewing the results of the brain scan. He said the imagery indicated  there had been been a small hemorrhage in the area of my chemo-besieged brain tumor sometime after my previous scan on January 4. That, he said, was an effect of the Avastin part of my chemotherapy. If given in far stronger doses than I’m getting, Avastin can cause severe internal bleeding problems. As much as that particular side effect might piss off the folks at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the hemorrhage was so small in my case that Dr. B expects it to heal itself and be absorbed to the point of invisibility by the time I get my next scan in another couple months. In other words, he assured me, don’t be overly concerned about it because it’s a sign the drugs are working exactly as they are supposed to be. And of course, no one ever said killing cancer is supposed to be pretty. And as long as I can expect this treatment regime to keep me alive at least through the end of this year, and perhaps for many more years to come, what’s a little brain hemorrhage between friends?

Dr. Bobustuc said something else that stuck with me long after I left his office. He told me to make it a goal to not even think about my brain tumor for two full days out of each week. I really like that prescription.  It means I’m making progress. Maybe, if I keep it up, I could take that advice even further – and eventually someday will come along when I’ll have whittled my “thinking-about-my-brain-tumor-time” to just one day each week.

 Maybe I will make it Tuesdays.


22 Responses

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  1. dan tracy said, on February 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    most excellent news. i think your old bucket head has taken the offense.

  2. Jane said, on February 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I winced when I read about them digging for a vein, as that happens every time I go for a test or scan. But i am very happy for you! Looks like you are back in the driver’s seat in your return trip to health.

    P.S. I like your doctor’s prescription.

  3. Joe Whited said, on February 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Outstanding Sean! This is the second dose of good news for me today. My 82-yar-old mother, who had triple bypass surgery on Feb. 11, leaves Research Hospital today for a facility where she can begin walking around and living more freely.

  4. Justus said, on February 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Great to learn that you are not vain about your veins. Great news—I am extremely excited for you.

  5. ann said, on February 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    The news has really kept the Hellmuth house jumping with joy. What happens to you is so important to us. Have fun time with Brian.

  6. Sandy Mathers said, on February 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Sean,
    That sounds pretty doggone good to me. You are walking the good walk on this, I think. I hope there’s more of that to come.
    As the good doc said, don’t think about it more than you have to for long stretches and that just might be really good therapy and healing, to boot!

  7. patebooks said, on February 22, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    good news, indeed. (also stuck w/vein pain but results totally worth it)

  8. April said, on February 23, 2011 at 11:52 am

    So very happy to hear this, Sean. Sounds like your thick skull is taking its share, and glad you’ll get a bit of a reprieve soon!

  9. LeeFeed said, on February 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    That is tremendous news now and for your future. I have great veins, and willing to volunteer for you next time.

  10. Craig Crawford said, on February 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    luv the doc’s suggestion about two days off thinkin about your brain. we should all give our brains a break from thinking about itself now and then. good stress release therapy!

  11. Colorado Bob said, on February 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    ” I didn’t mind the pain too much because pain is generally a good indicator that one isn’t dead yet. ”

    Rodger that .

  12. RebelliousRenee said, on February 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Atta boy, Sean!…. you must have a REALLY hard head…. :0)

  13. Elaine said, on February 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I’m now reconsidering my impression of Tuesdays, generally the most useless day of the week.

  14. Molly BB said, on February 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Hey Sean! Enjoyed reading your good news as we’re enjoying a rare, sunny day here in central KY. Please keep us posted with any results of the ‘crane project’. Have a good weekend!

  15. Claudine said, on February 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Yay Sean!!! That is great news!!

  16. Pat & Becky said, on February 28, 2011 at 12:45 am

    6 tries to find a vein?

    Keef…..izzat you, mate? Bloody Hell!


    such great news (again), sean! Thanks for the smile!

    P & B

  17. rebeany said, on March 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

    really wonderful news. look forward to the day when you’ve gone a whole day and not really thought about it once. that will feel so satisfying.
    sorry about the multiple vein-sticking. i have that too…and because i’m a breast cancer chemo survivor, i can only let them stick me multiple times on my left side. not allowed any blood pressure or sticks on the right side. those onco nurses are amazing.

    rest, heal, build…so happy to hear this news.


  18. Kathryn Quigley said, on March 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Why in the heck do they schedule MRIs for 7:30 am? Yikes!
    And the day to think about brain rumors is clearly Mondays. Unless something good is on tv

  19. Maxtrue said, on March 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Wonderful news Sean. You know I keep a tab on your progress. And you never fail to uplift.


  20. Jamie said, on April 4, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Great news Sean, and when it comes to people who love you there is another great Gershwin lyric

    In time the Rockies may tumble, Gibraltar may crumble
    They’re only made of clay
    But our love is here to stay

  21. Laura said, on April 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I’m so happy abour these results!

    Now two months has passed (or nearly) since your last post: how are your Tuesdays working out?

    All my best,

  22. Dorine Tenerowicz said, on February 27, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Doctors hearing the symptoms a patient has may strongly suspect bleeding inside the skull.This may be confirmed using a computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain. If not, a spinal tap can be used to confirm or rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding between the layers of the covering of the brain). A spinal tap may also be needed if infection is suspected. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT angiogram and/or contrast angiography may be needed to complete the diagnosis and help doctors to decide on the proper treatment.-

    Newest piece of writing on our personal web page

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