Friday, July 2, 2010

Cancer sucks... put it mildly.

My mom has a Caring Bridge site and this is what my dad posted today.

We met with Dr. Yeilding yesterday to hear about the CT scan results. It's mixed news, not good, but not terrible. All we knew going into the meeting was what the nurse told us - that there has been "increased progression" in the abdomen. Two things have happened over the past 5 months since her last CT scan. There's about a cup of fluid in her abdomen that contains cancer cells. That was about a thimble quantity last time. He said that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worse, this is a 2 or 3. Not too bad. They can't go in an remove the fluid without causing all kinds of other problems, so there's not much we can do about that. The other problem is that the scan also showed a thickening of the abdomen lining. This wasn't seen in the last CT scan, so it looks like we've caught it early. Even so, he rated this about 4-5 on the 1/10 scale - more serious than the fluid. He also told us that the scan picked up cells in the lymph nodes in the abdomen. That was the scariest sounding news to us, but he quickly said that the lymph nodes in the abdomen don't spread the cancer like those you hear about with breast or lung cancer. That’s some relief, but this thing is acting up a bit and we need to change things up to hold it back.

Evidently the chemo mix that she's been taking for the past 4 months hasn't been working too effectively, so Dr. Yeilding is changing it up a little. We're hopeful that a change can stop it or slow it down considerably. We’ll stay on Avastin for now. Fortunately, the one he's stopping, Cisplatin, is the one that has caused the worse nausea. He's replacing that with another one, Doxil, that's also been around awhile. It probably won't cause nausea and hair loss, but it could. It has a different side effect called hand-foot syndrome (HFS). HFS makes the palms of your hands and soles of the feet red, tender and painful. Not sure that's better than nausea, but Toni's looking forward to any change right now. The symptoms can be lessened somewhat by dosage changes so hopefully this will be manageable. The good news is that she'll only go every 2 weeks instead of 3 in a row, off a week, 3 more... This will give her a little break so she should feel better between treatments.

We continue to have the utmost confidence in Dr. Yeilding and his staff at Brookwood. They are very compassionate, extremely competent and we trust them completely. Dr. Yeilding regularly refers to “God-directed scientific research” that continues to make progress. His goal for Toni is to keep this as a “chronic illness instead of a fatal illness” while research progresses toward a real cure. He still refers to her prognosis as long-term and that she should look forward to years, not months. I said this before, but it’s worth repeating, just to show you what kind of man he is. Toni told him a number of months ago that she prayed for him every day. His immediate response was “just pray that I will listen to the Holy Spirit.” We couldn’t be in better hands.

Our trust remains in the Lord who is really the only one in control of anything in our lives. He’s given us a peace about this that I’ve mentioned before. That’s what sustains us and helps us through this roller coaster ride of tests and treatments. Toni’s attitude is still 100% positive. She’s been on chemo for almost 14 months now with only a few weeks off. She’s a lot tougher than I am and has never once complained. We thank God for his many, many blessings and know that we’ll feel his love as he helps us cope with this.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. Your cards, calls, and emails with words of encouragement really boost her spirits and mean so much. Please keep them coming. If you’d like to send Toni and e-mail note, please do. Or, you can sign the Guestbook here on CaringBridge.

We continue to pray for all of you and thank God for our family and friends who have been so supportive and helpful. We’re richly blessed with so many wonderful friends and family. Everyone wants to know if they can do anything for us. Right now, we’re handling things ok and I’ll speak up if there’s anything we need. Just please send your prayers for remission and comfort for Toni as we continue this journey.

We love you. Have a great 4th of July!

Toni, Davis, John, Heather, Eric and Lucas

P.S. Please go to this web site to learn more about this disease – and spread the word to those you love. The Laura Crandall Brown Ovarian Cancer Foundation is a local group whose mission is to provide funding in support of research in the early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer. I’m now one the Board and would like your support to help us find a way to detect this cancer in the early stages to give folks like Toni a chance to fight it, to beat it, to live without it!

Thank you, Dave

So that is where we are now. Like Dad said, it isn't good, but not terrible either. We know that we could be in a much worse situation.

I need to brag on my dad real quick. John (my brother) and I have been so blessed by my parent's marriage. They showed us what it means to have a loving, healthy, God-focused marriage. This is probably the best gift they could have ever given to us! My father has been by my mother's side from the beginning of this ordeal. He has cooked, cleaned, held, comforted, re-dressed wounds (believe me my father is a VERY squimish man and cannot handle "gross" things well at all so this was huge!), and made my mother laugh (which is has always been so good at doing). Now, I know that many men would do these things in a heart beat for their wives, but my dad is special. My dad looks at this as his OPPORTUNITY to SERVE my mother. WOW!! He does not complain about this. He follows Christ's example and chooses to take this time to show his love the best way possible...service. He loves to take care of her. My parents have been married for over 30 years and I only see their love growing stronger.
Mom is in good spirits. Her attitude is "OK what do we do now?" She NEVER complains. She trusts God completely and is such an amazing witness of what it means to completely surrender to God.

We know that God is in control and we know that everything is going according to plan. We may not always like the plan or understand the plan, but too much good has come from this situation to question the plan. Please continue to pray for my mother. Thank you so much!! I am adding Mom's Caring Bridge site to my side bar so you can keep up with her through there or sign the guest book if you would like to leave her a note.