FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 1997


We finally got the official results from the most recent MRI, which was taken this past Tuesday while Ashley was in the hospital.

  • The spots on Ashley's spine, which showed up on the original MRI on March 17, are GONE!

  • There is no evidence of any new growth in the area of the brain where the tumor was removed!

These are both EXCELLENT bits of news.

But what about the 5% of the tumor that was left after the original surgery?

I don't know the answer to that question for sure. Here are the facts that we know about the brain tumor itself, as well as some of my conclusions based on these facts.

The tumor was discovered on March 16 of this year by a CT scan of Ashley's head. It was approximately the size of a golf ball, and was located at the back of the brain in the area of the medulla oblongata.

An MRI taken on March 17 showed the brain tumor, as well as several spots on the spine. This MRI was taken using contrast, which was injected into Ashley's system prior to the MRI. It is my understanding that contrast is absorbed by ACTIVE (growing, malignant) tumor tissue, but not by INACTIVE (dormant, benign) tumor tissue. The spots on Ashley's spine were detected because they showed up as "hot spots" due to the contrast. However, even though the entire brain tumor showed up on the MRI, only parts of it showed up as "hot spots" due to the contrast. This would seem to indicate that parts of the tumor were actively growing, while other parts of it were "dead", or inactive tumor tissue. This also fits with Dr. Swift's description of the tumor after he had surgically removed about 95% of it. He said that it was a strange looking tumor, with parts of it being soft and pliable, while other parts of it were harder and more stringy.

Another set of MRI pictures was taken on March 21, three days after the tumor resection surgery. These pictures still showed the spots on the spine, and showed a hollow area where the brain tumor had been located. However, even though about 5% of the tumor remained near Ashley's brain stem, the post-op MRI showed absolutely no "hot spots" in this area. To me, the only logical conclusion is that the remaining 5% of the tumor was NOT active, growing, malignant tissue.

Therefore, when this week's MRI was performed, we were not necessarily looking for a reduction in tumor tissue in the brain area (because we couldn't even see the remaining tumor tissue on the post-op MRI, so we didn't have anything to compare to). What we WERE looking for was an absence of any new tumor growth in the brain. If there had been new tumor growth, it would have shown up as "hot spots" due to the contrast, and would have given us something to worry about. However, since no such "hot spots" were detected, it means that there is no new growth, and that is what we wanted to see!

Praise God for this wonderful news! The radiation apparently did what it was supposed to do!


Ashley has really tolerated this week's chemotherapy treatments quite well. She has only thrown up about three times all week long, and we are not convinced that all of those spells were even related to the chemo. She has been in relatively good spirits all week long.

Ashley has now been exposed to three of the four chemo drugs, and has tolerated all three of them quite remarkably! The fourth drug, to which she has not yet been exposed, is "the mean one" according to nurse Sheryl. We will find out in a couple of weeks how she tolerates that particular drug (Cisplatin).

Please continue to pray for her strength throughout all of these treatments.

If everything goes well this afternoon, we should be able to bring Ashley home from the hospital this evening.

Thank you so much for your continued concern and prayers for Ashley.

God bless you!

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