Michael’s Story

Site created on May 22, 2018


Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.


Hey family and friends,
It's Michael here.  Wanted to catch everyone up with my health situation.
Sorry I'm not writing a song here so it's a bit long.



Most of you know I had a run in with a rare thyroid cancer back in 2014.
Kristy and I thought I was done with it.  We caught it early and they removed my thyroid.
Over the past few years I have continued with my charmed life as a musician and overall
happy guy just being monitored for medication and screened for cancer.


In June of 2017 as a part of my routine blood tests one of my possible cancer markers started

rising and I started feeling funny again.
Some of you know about my light headed feeling that took me to the doctor and discovered

the first cancer.

It has been going on for months and I talk about it too much with many of you probably.



That lead to a number of ultrasounds, CT scans, and PET scan tests and in November of 2017 doctors

found a small glowing spot in the upper part of my left lung. Obviously bad news.

I went in for a procedure to biopsy the spot and eradicate it with radio ablation  days before

Christmas in December 2017.


The doctor was unable to get a biopsy to tell what type of cancer it was at that time because

of bleeding so they just set it on fire with the ablation.

When I went in for a follow up visit in February 2018 the follow up tests showed my numbers
had risen by 20x. 



More blood tests. More rising cancer marker numbers. Then another PET scan in March found that I have cancer activity
in a lymph node or two surrounded by my left lung. The test markers also now appear to point to a possible medullary cancer.
Due to or related to my previous rare cancer.


The doctors wanted me to do 15 rounds of targeted radiation but given the nature of my previous
cancer and the fact that I had to deal with another spot only 4 months ago Kristy and I wanted a second
opinion.


We were referred to a specialist in Thyroid cancer at Rush University Chicago.
Great doctor!

Unfortunately the second opinion has turned out to be an even scarier prospect.


We have been informed that if this cancer activity in my lung turns out to be the medullary
cancer I had before there is really no satisfactory treatment.


It was explained that the medullary tends to just keep coming like mice or roaches.
If you have one you'll have more.

You have to weigh the value of treatments against what you are getting out of killing
healthy parts of you. Meaning how much do I get out of 15 rounds of radiation stopping a tumor
that pops up only three months after we dealt with another.


The doctor has told us there might be some small hope.
It would still only be bad news but if they could get a biopsy sample
of my lymph nodes they might find it's another type of cancer and I may have

options to treat it.


They presented my case to the Tumor board at Rush a couple weeks ago and a

fantastic thoracic surgeon thought he could get a biopsy using a special

ultrasound/camera/needle device that they send down my throat and into my
lung. Then the poke through to the lymph node with the needle.


If the biopsy comes back as the "good" bad news we are hoping for that will mean it
is a primary cancer based in my lung. The solution will be that doctors will remove
the top lobe of my left lung.
It's the news that strangely enough Kristy and I are hoping for.


I had the biopsy procedure this week and happily the surgeon was able to get the samples.
Now we wait until next Thursday May 31 for the pathology to see where I go from here.


Thank you so much for the love and wishes.
Hopefully all of you know that it is great appreciated.


-Michael




Newest Update

Journal entry by Michael Heaton

Hello Friends and Family,

I apologize that it's been so long since I've
updated this page.

First of all I will tell you that
I have been feeling GREAT the past month
and a half!
I feel somewhere around 85-90percent of myself again!
Lots of energy lately and my body has just been
telling me to move.

I've started driving a bit lately.
I've even gotten back to some physical
exercise. If you know me you know that means
riding my Trikke.
I've even performed a little music in public!
More on that in a moment.

Kristy and I have travelled to University Of Chicago Medicine
for updated tests, brain MRIs and body CT scans
three times since my last update.

I'm in the 8th month of this 26month study and
again it looks like this genetically targeted chemo
drug is pounding the cancer in my body!

I am not cured of this cancer
but it is quite amazing that I feel SO 
much better even though I still have tumors
in my lungs, liver, spine, ribs and my brain.
 
I have four wonderful female doctors and RNs that
are my care team at UCM and they have just been the 
best! Kristy and I get hugs at every visit and they
have been very happy for us.

Last month we we're shown a side by side comparison
of my liver and spine from CTs taken in Dec. 2018 and 
April 2019. 
The first picture my liver and spine looked like Swiss cheese
(no exaggeration) from all the tumors.
In the latest picture it was astounding how much the tumors had
shrunk and smaller tumors looked to me like they had disappeared!

I wanted to share that news but last month I got nervous again.
A week later my cancer marker tests both had come back a little
bit elevated.

Last week I was assured by my doctors that I shouldn't be concerned 
because the rise was too small to be considered clinically significant.
They say I'm going great!

With that said, I mentioned before that I got out and played a little music.
I want to let you know that as long as I'm feeling this good, I plan
to play my old Wednesday nights
summer residency on the patio at my pal Kevin's place!
If you don't know it's the Aurelio's pizza in Geneva, Il.

I'm not going to be posting shows on www.michaelheaton.com
just yet but if you would like to know where I will be popping up
locally as health and weather permit I will begin sending out
frequent emails again if you sign up or are signed up on
my website's email. The email sign up is on the front page 
just under the picture and notice that I'm not playing shows.

Hoping to be healthy enough to do it forever soon enough!
I am just over the moon that I feel this good now!

Once again I want to say THANK YOU a hundred times over
from me and Kristy to all of you.

There just aren't strong enough words to express how helpful
and how much love and support we have received over the past year!

Now I want to get working on that album and a show or two to give it back!

Much love friends,
Michael Heaton

I've added a couple pictures.
One from August 2018 and one from last week. What a difference!
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