This is a brief synopsis of what has happened so far.
In the wee small hours of Tuesday, August 10th I ended up in the emergency room at St. Lukes’ South Hospital in Overland Park, KS. It was the third night in a period of a couple of weeks that I had experienced pretty excruciating abdominal pain, but I’m not a fan of the Emergency Room Experience. But by that third time, I was pretty worn down and just wanted something to stop the pain. They couldn’t find anything wrong – my blood tests were totally normal. So they shot me full of something that made the pain blissfully go away, told me I likely had gallstones and to come back in the morning for an ultrasound. The next day when they did the ultrasound it was quite obvious on the faces of the techs that something was Greatly Amiss. But, of course, no one would tell me anything, just to get in touch with my doctor ASAP. By the time I got home, the doctors’ office had phoned with instructions to come in first thing the next morning and to bring my husband. Ominous. The next morning the doctor said that they had found a fairly large mass at the head of my pancreas. Could be a tumor, could be something else – the only way to tell was to do a CT scan. Since I hadn’t eaten yet, they were able to do that almost immediately. Within four hours, I knew I had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer which had already spread to the liver. This, by definition, makes it medically inoperable and incurable. A biopsy several days later confirmed this. Since then has been a whirlwind of much emotion, many tears, doctor’s visits, hospital visits, and the beginning of the participation in a clinical study in which I receive 3 types of chemo. The first two, Gemzar and Tarceva are considered the “gold standard” for pancreatic cancer. The third is a drug they are testing that appears to enhance the effect of the first two and sometimes doubles the life expectancy of the patient. I haven’t tolerated the chemo very well and as of last week, it appears that I also am not responding to it as the blood marker for pancreatic cancer, CA19-9, has been steadily rising rather than maintaining or decreasing as hoped. Today I had a new CT scan and expect my standard Wednesday appointment tomorrow to be pivotal. I have been blessed by so many caring friends and family and it is impossible to personally keep in contact with everyone who has asked to be updated, so I decided to start this blog which will be updated every week – either Wednesday or Thursday – by myself or a member of my family. I appreciate so much all of the cards, phone calls, healing thoughts and prayers that have been sent my way. They help, they really do. I will still send personal emails as I can, but I thought this was the way to go with getting out the updates in a timely manner to as many as possible. On a more personal note, I have times when I have total meltdowns and times when I handle things pretty well. I am seldom in pain – I have more problems with the side effects from chemo than from the cancer itself! Biggest problem is overwhelming fatigue. Next on my list would be my healthy case of “zits!” Actually a rash that is a common reaction to Tarceva. This has thankfully subsided a great deal and now feel like I can go out in public without frightening children and small household pets! I have kept my hair – none of the chemos that I take have hair loss as a side effect. Five of my children live in the area and my daughter is in the process of moving here. The remaining son is in Texas – about three hours away by air. I wish he was closer but there are things like homes, jobs and kids in school that get in the way!
Again, thanks for your support to me and my family during this difficult time in our lives.
my best to you all,