Alese Coco's Journey through Hodgkins Disease

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Treatment Begins...

I flew back home on December 23rd to spend Christmas with my family and then flew back on the 26th to begin treatment on this week. We had a unbelievable Christmas as a family, one that I will always cherish and reflect on with fond memories. Late in the afternoon, we went to dinner at the home of our long time family friends, the Lassiter's, this was a great way to end a near perfect day. Thank you Ed, Millie, Eric, Margo and family, Dave, Linda and family. You're awesome.

I've been faced with a few challenges over the last week; the first one was when Dr. O'Conner told me that the disease has spread. I have two behind my stomach, it is in my spleen, and I have masses in my chest. In the past, the disease was restricted to my neck and chest; this recurrence has comeback more aggressively. Dr. O'Conner insists that the disease is still treatable, however, my past two occurrences were staged IIA, this occurrence is IIIB, the good news is there was no disease in my bone marrow. On the 26th, I headed back to New York, two hours into the flight something went wrong and the pilot made an emergency landing in Denver, I took another flight and did not land in New York until 2:00a.m. and I didn't arrive at my house until 3:00 a.m. The second challenge is when I woke up yesterday morning with a low-grade fever. As the day progressed, my fever escalated to the point were doctors told me that if it went up another half a degree they were going to admit into the hospital. When I initially called my parents and told them what was going on, my Dad booked a red eye flight to New York. In past experiences, once a fever starts to develop, it only get worse for the first few days. Although this is the first time I've had a fever in two years, my parents did not want to take any chances of me being admitted into the hospital and not having one them with me. A few years ago, Oprah Winfrey had a special about hospitals, she said that everyday in America 270 people die in hospitals because of human error, this is equivalent to a 747 crashing everyday. Ever since, one of my parents have been with me 24/7, playing ten questions with every nurse and doctor who walks in. At around 5:30 p.m. my friend Katie Steiner arrived, she is going to be with me for the next week. She is such a great friend, and we have so much fun together! She was very helpful pouring fluids down me to keep me hydrated and taking my temperature, I drank so much water, I thought I was going to pop. Finally, at 10:00 p.m. my fever broke and called my Dad and told him everything was okay, he cancelled his flight. I'm starting treatment on the 28th... I'm taking a combination of drugs called MDX and CD-30. I'm getting in right on the tail end of this trial; both of these drugs have shown promise with other participating patients. I have lots of hope.


ps- Thank you to every one who took the time to pray for me while I had a fever; and who wrote me well wishes in my guestbook. I can't put it in to words how much love I felt from all of you. THANK YOU.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Back To The City...

Happy Holidays! Just to give you all a brief update...
My Mom and I head back to the city on December 19, 2004, I have a Doctors appointment on the 20th; at that appointment we will choose the treatment that I am going to pursue. We have narrowed it down to two: SaHa and CD-30. Both of these show good results in treating Hodgkin's, but with the lowest side effects out of the five. To be totally honest with you- I'm pulling for SaHa, because not only does it show great promise, the only side effect it has is dramatic weight loss. (I KNOW!) Anyways, I will fly back to California on the 23rd so I can be home with my family for Christmas. (A BIG thanks to everyone who donated Frequent Flyer Miles, you made it possible) Then I will fly back out to the city on the 26th, for another treatment on the 27th. To say the least I have a busy few weeks ahead of me. The upside is, this will be my first New Years out of state. I am totally excited... My friend Katie is going to come with me, and in the words of one of my friend's parents, "New Years was born in New York!" It's going to be great. Thank you so much to everybody who has taken the time out of their day to pray for my family and I... I cannot formulate any words that would come close to expressing the gratitude that I feel. I am so blessed to have each and every one of you in my life.

PS- I have been pretty busy the past couple weeks... So I posted some pictures of what I've been up to.
I went to a UCLA Peds-Hemoc Christmas party, and some of my doctors didn't recognize me because I have hair, I got a kick out of that, haha.

Me, with one of my UCLA nurses- Angie, and my friend Rabeh

Another one of my amazing nurses, Kristen

Lyvette workin' the camera

I went and watched my brother Mark ride his dirt bike, it was my first time seeing him ride- I was so impressed!

Friday, December 03, 2004

I went to New York...

December 1, 2004 – 8:55pm (Eastern Time)

We just took off from New York and were flying home now… Our flight to New York was delayed, as our plane was taking off from Burbank; something went wrong, so we went back to the hanger until another plane arrived. The delay lasted six hours and we arrived in New York on Monday morning at 5:00 a.m.

We were able to catch a few hours of sleep and they we went to Sloan Kettering a little after 12:30pm, we met with Dr. Owen O’Connor and two doctors on his staff. To this point, my options have been limited. Stanford and UCLA have told me my only option is a bone marrow transplant using Mark or Shallyn as a donor. Dr. O’Connor has given me five different treatment options, I am so encouraged. We took a lot of notes and gathered an incredible amount of data. In the next few days, my Mom, Dad and I will sit down and decide which one will be best. I return on December 20th to begin treatment, my mom will accompany on this trip and in January, I will begin living there.

I’ve never been to New York, what an incredible city, I’ve found that I have a hidden talent, I have mastered the fine art of hailing a cab, even in pouring rain… I love New York! We had a little time for site seeing, we went to the World Trade Center site, I have seen this on TV for so many years, but actually being there was very moving. A few blocks away is the New York Stock Exchange, this place is guarded like Fort Knox, all the streets around the exchange are closed to cars. There are Police with machine guns, walking bomb dogs; and many Department of Homeland Security agents, it was amazing. We also went to Time Square and the Empire State Building. My favorite was Bloomingdales; this place brings a whole new meaning to the word shopping.

Thank you for all of the encouraging notes that have been posted. I feel the love, thank you <3>Ground Zero

Times Square

The BEST ice cream you will ever eat!