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February 26, 2012

Dear Friends, UPDATE: Michael successfully completed a long surgery on Thursday to remove the tumor in his left orbital area. Surgery went as well as could be expected, and lasted five hours. The procedure required the removal of his skull from mid head to the eyebrow; the incision went from ear to ear. They were able to remove the vast majority of the solid tumor. The good news was that the tumor had not invaded the dura matter, the protective casing of the brain. It had not penetrated the protective tissue of the eye or the optic nerve. They did not have to remove the orbital bones, although there was some damage to those areas. However, the hope is that it can be treated with additional chemo (which began this past week) and MIBG therapy, a targeted radiation isotope strategy that finds metabolically active sites of the cancer and attacks them at a molecular level. Michael spent one night in ICU, and was moved back to the oncology floor around 6pm Friday night. He has received two transfusions to restore his blood counts as a result of the chemo earlier this week. He experienced a great deal of pain after…

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February 17, 2012

Dear Friends and Family, First, we would like to thank you for all of the wonderful emails, video messages, cards, gifts and meals that so many of you have sent to Michael and to our family. Michael has really enjoyed hearing from everyone. He is doing as well as can be expected, given the severity of his surgeries. Yesterday he sat up in bed, and today he took his first step. He is resistant to movement, but we are taking it one day at a time. We met with Michael's oncologist today, and got the plan for the next few weeks. The doctors believe Michael is not strong enough to have his next surgery over the next few days. So the surgery is now scheduled for Thursday, February 23rd at 11:30am. Since that is almost a week away, Michael is going to have high dose chemotherapy for five days beginning this evening. A few days after the surgery on his left eye orbit, the plan is to have surgery to place a central line in Michael (similar to a port, but there are three tubes, and they are outside of the body instead of under the skin). Then his stem…

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February 13, 2012

Dear Friends, UPDATE: Michael went into surgery at 6:30am, and the two surgeries lasted about seven hours. The first surgeon removed a large portion of the cancer outside of Michael's spine. The second surgeon was not able to remove all of the cancer in and surrounding the spine, but he did get the majority of it. Unfortunately, the remaining cancer was liquid and attached to the nerve. The ideal neuroblastoma tumor would be very hard, so you could pop it out like a golf ball. That was not the case with Michael's remaining tumor. The surgeon could not remove any more because it would damage the nerve, and cause some loss of motor function. Also, the consistency of the tumor means that it is metabolically active and will continue to spread unless they do further treatment, such as high dose chemotherapy and MIBG therapy. But this surgery bought them a little time to let Michael recover before they begin more treatment. Michael is now in ICU, where he will be until he stabilizes a little more. He has two lines in his hands, a catheter, and a drainage tube on his left side. As soon as he is strong enough,…

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February 10, 2012

Dear Friends, UPDATE: Michael was admitted to Cook Children's in Fort Worth last night. He started experiencing pain yesterday due to the tumor compression on the spine. It was best to admit him to manage the pain and swelling. The MRI results started coming back around 4:00 and showed growth of the tumors and significant swelling around the spine. They started him on steroids last night to reduce the swelling in order to perform surgery. The surgeons would like to hold off on surgery until Monday, but we are waiting to see if he needs to have surgery sooner. It depends on how he responds to the steroids, and whether or not his symptoms increase. Alison and Mike are meeting with the surgeons at 3:15 to discuss all options and the appropriate timeline. When we have a definite answer on surgery, I will send out another update. But as of now, it is still scheduled for Monday. Many of you have contacted me asking what you can do to help the family. THANK YOU! I have spoken with Alison and the most difficult part of this situation for Michael is being separated from his friends. He would love to receive…

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February 9, 2012

Dear Friends, UPDATE: Mike and Alison received Michael's final test results Tuesday afternoon from Cook Children's in Fort Worth. The existing tumors in his upper spine and left eye have doubled in size over last 13 days, which is extremely alarming. The tumor in his spine has wrapped around his spine in a dangerous position. The tumor in his eye is on the border of his brain, and the doctors feel it will penetrate into the brain very soon if left untreated. New tumors were discovered in the CT scan. One is in his middle spine, which has spread into his bones. One is in his left leg and there may be one small spot in his liver. Michael's oncologist called this an urgent situation, and feels that chemotherapy or radiation will take too long to have any effect on this rapidly spreading cancer. This means that the MIBG treatment in San Francisco and the 3F8 treatment at Sloan Kettering in NY are on hold. They have elected to do surgery on his upper spine, his middle spine, and his eye. Michael will have an MRI today detailing the areas of concern, and the Malones will meet with the three…

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