On Saturday, Josh returned to Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids for a more detailed MRI that his doctors hoped would give them a better understanding as to the whether the two new lesions in his brain (one in the original cavity located in his thalamus and the other located in his cerebellum) were a sign of tumor regrowth or if they might be a result of the radiation treatment he had last year. This MRI was our last opportunity to learn more in the hopes of avoiding a more invasive biopsy.
On Monday, we received a phone call from Josh’s oncologist with the results of the MRI. The images showed that the two lesions had grown significantly since his last scan 3 1/2 weeks ago. The growth combined with everything else doctors were seeing on the MRI helped them to conclude that we are indeed dealing with two new high grade gliomas (tumors.)
As surgery to remove the tumors would be difficult, particularly for the tumor located in the cerebellum, it was decided that Josh will be undergoing another round of radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation will be focused on both tumor areas which is a bit tricky as they need to be careful how much radiation the brain stem receives. It is not directly being treated but there is the possibility of it being subjected to some of the radiation. As the left side of his brain stem has possibly already been affected by the treatment last spring, they now need to be extra careful and therefore want to begin treatment while the tumor in the original area (posterior thalamus) is smaller. This will hopefully minimize the effects on the brain stem.
As for chemo, Josh will be undergoing a treatment in clinic every 2 weeks as an IV infusion. We are told that each visit could take half a day to complete when you factor in the time to check in, administer the drugs, monitor for symptoms and check out.
Treatment is set to begin quickly as we will be heading to the Lemmen Holten Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids on Thursday to create the mask that Josh will need to wear for the radiation treatments and we found out today that he will undergo his first infusion on Monday.
The goal of the treatment is to hopefully slow or stop the growth of the tumors or even better to see them shrink in size. Dr. Braunreiter was very clear that this treatment will not make the tumors “go away,” and that right now apart from surgery there isn’t any treatment that can do that, but trying to slow or stop the progression is an important step. We continue to have faith in our doctors and their guidance and we are very hopeful to see the results of this new treatment regimen.
We will continue to keep you all updated as we know more and we ask that you please continue to keep Josh in your thoughts and prayers as we move down this new path of his journey.