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|John Kenny (66), gbm 5/03-8/26/04; written by his daughter, Maeve Reilly|
| March 29, 2004
Dad had a great 66th birthday five days ago. He was in great form and loved reading all the e-mails and cards that he's been receiving from former students, friends, and family.
On Saturday, Mom had a little open house for folks to come by and pay Dad a visit. He had lots of special visitors that day, including a 102-year-old friend who attributes her longevity not only to her active lifestyle but to the one square of chocolate that she eats daily---so she gave Dad a big chocolate bar as a gift.
He was in wonderful form. He was able to walk into the kitchen every morning, though he tired as the day wore on. I think the party wore him out a little too, because he was a bit tired yesterday, but in his usual great spirits. He has an MRI today, although we won't get the results until his next doctor's appointment---I think a week from today.
April 6, 2004
My dad got the results of his MRI yesterday. The good news is that the smaller of the two tumors, which sits on the speech area in front, is responding well to the chemo (Temodar) and has shrunk in size.
The bad news is that the larger of the two, which sits on the motor strip and had previously looked like it was growing, has indeed increased in size. So Dad went into the hospital at 5:30 a.m. today and is scheduled for gamma knife sometime after the four-hour prep.
He will remain in the hospital overnight for observation but should be able to go home tomorrow. The gamma knife is noninvasive radiation, and the success rate for gbm seems to be pretty good. And it's all physics!
1:20 p.m., April 6, 2004
Gamma knife surgery is completed, and Dad went through it well. He will stay the night in the hospital, but he got a bite to eat and seems to be doing just fine!
April 13, 2004
Easter weekend was great at the Kenny household. The only ill effect Dad seemed to suffer from the gamma knife was a sore back, which he and Mom figured was from being moved around in the hospital. We won't know until a couple of months if the gamma knife had any effect on the tumor, but we hope for the best!
April 23, 2004
It was a year ago on April 25th that Dad suffered his grand mal seizure---the first indication of his brain tumor. Dad started his 11th round of Temodar earlier this week and seems to be doing well with it. He's had lots of visitors this week, and the weather has been great between rain showers, so he's been able to go out and enjoy the garden that Mom has completely replanted!
May 3, 2004
I haven't had much opportunity to write lately, and I'm not sure what to write. I didn't get to see Dad this weekend, since my nephew and godson Vincent celebrated his First Communion and my parents couldn't attend. Dad seems to be pretty weak and, I think, confused more easily, especially when I talk to him on the phone. We don't know if it's the effects of his recent chemo treatment, the gamma knife, or the disease progression itself. He won't be getting an MRI for another couple of months, so we won't know if the gamma knife had any effect.
May 10, 2004
We celebrated Mother's Day this weekend in fine style. I think Dad was happy to have his kids and grandkids there---and Mom thought he had gained back some strength. I bet he's worn out today after all the social activity and going out for brunch on Mother's Day. He has a somewhat persistent cough---his lungs have been checked and it doesn't seem to be an infection (and his lungs don't hurt him). Perhaps it's allergies--they are prevalent in central Illinois at this time of year.
"I attended Bradley with a brother, and Dr. Kenny would always look at us
and say 'Timius donarus et donaris ferentis!' (Latin: 'I fear them and the gifts
they bear,' by Virgil). I gave him a bottle of Greek liqueur with a Greek warrior
I engraved on the bottle together with the legend from Virgil. We sat in his office
the last day of finals, 1978, and drank a few together. His warmth and under-
standing have stayed with me all my life, and I have never forgotten him.
"Perhaps the most memorable thing I recall is a story your dad told me. He
had a student in his Astronomy 300 class who was an English Literature major,
and just flunking the class terribly. On the final, your dad asked, 'What is a
star?' The English Literature major, who did not answer any other question on
the test, wrote, 'Stars are little pieces of daylight left behind in the darkness so
that we never lose hope.' The Irishman in your dad gave that student an A for
the course. That is what stars really are. I sometimes think that is why your
father always would go out and look at them. He taught me never to lose hope.
And so I pass his story on to you."
May 14, 2004
This week has been somewhat stressful for my dad and everyone involved in his care. He has had a cough for over a week, and Mom has had several people listen to his lungs, but someone on my brain tumor e-mail list said that really the only way to check for pneumonia or other lung problems is to get a chest x-ray. So Mom called the oncologist's office. A nurse there confirmed that. She said the doctor was out of town but that they could do the x-ray in the office and that Mom should bring Dad in. Three days ago, she brought him in. The nurse practitioner decided that he didn't need an x-ray immediately, because she was more concerned about the swelling in his leg and suspected he had a blood clot (he's had swelling on and off in his leg---presumably caused by Decadron, the steroid he's on). So off they went for a Doppler test at the hospital, and it confirmed that he had an "extensive" blood clot in his right thigh. He's on an oral anticoagulant, Coumadin, and is also going down to the office to get a shot until the Coumadin kicks in (it can take up to 5 days).
He's limited to his bed because of the clot---and I think he was pretty disappointed to hear about it. He's still got a cough, and today he's going for blood work, so hopefully they can get an x-ray done to rule out any lung problems. I went to visit him two days ago, and he's pretty wiped out and a bit confused. Hopefully, this will just be a temporary setback.
May 18, 2004
We spent the weekend in Peoria and, in my opinion, I think Dad is not doing so well. He has lost a lot of mobility. We had to take him down to the hospital for anticoagulant shots on both Saturday and Sunday and, fortunately, a very kind nurse came out to give him a shot, because it was very difficult to get him in and out of the car.
After a doctor's visit yesterday, Mom learned that he no longer needs to get the anticoagulant shot. In addition, he had a chest x-ray and he does not have pneumonia. They are planning to do some other tests to see if they can determine what is causing the cough that he still has. Also, his Decadron dosage will be increased a little, so hopefully he will regain his conversational ability. He was having difficulty communicating over the weekend.
It's worrying because he has not "sprung back" after the gamma knife and the last round of chemo. The cumulative effects of chemo plus the gamma knife may be taking their toll.
May 21, 2004
Just a quick note: my mom called in home health care this week and they came in to evaluate Dad. They are going to outfit him with a special chair that will make it easier for him to get in and out of bed and the shower---easier to get around in general, it seems.
My mom's birthday is May 25th. I think it will be a difficult day for her.