Thursday, April 19, 2012

Past Due Update

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this family blog. Kay and I have been trying really hard to feel closer to normal, and part of that has been avoiding talking so much about Kay’s cancer. We know people care about us, need to be kept up to date, and yet we have had a need to continue to try to enjoy the rest of our existence. Kay has cancer and we are not trying to deny or hide that, we just also need to have the rest of our lives, and we appreciate the chance to just be normal and live our lives.

That said here is the update. Kay is back on chemo, and yesterday started the fourth of six cycles of her third course of chemotherapy. We were disappointed that the remission after her second course was pretty brief, and the process of defining just what cancer remained was an emotional roller coaster. The end of the evaluation was both good and bad. The bad news was that there seemed to be a focus of cancer in the area of Kay’s cervix which was not able to be removed at her initial surgery. There also seemed to be an enlarged lymph node in the area behind the abdominal cavity called the retroperitoneum. In Feb. Kay underwent a robotic surgery by Dr. Swisher at UW where they removed her cervix as well as the lymph node. The surgery went great, and the really good news was that they found no cancer in the abdominal cavity, washings showed no cancer cells, and the lymph node was not cancer. The really bad news was that the cancer in the cervix extended to the surgical margins, so the hope for a surgical cure was dashed. Repeat CT scan confirmed that the correct lymph node was removed, and so Kay decided to be aggressive and undergo dual chemotherapy followed by radiation to the vaginal cuff area to try to completely eliminate any remaining cancer. The word “cure” was even mentioned, although we are trying to keep our expectations realistic.

Kay has completed three consecutive 3-week cycles of chemo where she gets both IV chemo and intraperitoneal (IP) chemo. The IP infusions are more difficult, where a large volume of chemo is infused through an IP port filling Kay’s belly with the chemo and fluid. The problems with this is that Kay has a lot of pain and feeling of fullness for about a week after the infusion. Overall it has been a much more debilitating treatment for Kay than either of the first two courses. Fatigue, abdominal pain and nausea have been problems, but each cycle the doctors, nurses and Kay have refined the process slightly and it has been an improvement.

Brett has been living at home since graduation from Seattle University in December, and we are so grateful for our fabulous children. Jean came home and was a huge help after Kay’s initial surgery, and Brett has been the big helper this course. Our friends have also been terrific support, with special kudos going to Terry Asplund who has been Kay’s companion at several of her chemo sessions while I’ve continued to work.

We are learning that Kay feels well enough to be more active by the middle of her cycle, and last week we got away to Palm Springs for a nice break. It was great to have time together in the sunshine, and we had a great trip.

Kay’s CA-125 levels have been coming down nicely, and we remain hopeful that after the 6 cycles and the following radiation therapy all of the cancer will be gone. It is possible that it was only the area of cancer in the cervix that was not eradicated by each chemo cycle, and that between this course of chemo, the surgery and the radiation the last stubborn cancer cells will be killed.

We know that you all have kept us in your prayers, and appreciate all of the support. So far though this course has been emotionally and physically more difficult for Kay, she has had no serious complications and the results are promising. Keep up the prayers and I’ll try to be better about posting updates.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Ed & Kay, thanks for the update. We try not to bring it up so much, but the details are helpful as we consider what we can pray for and what we can do to help. Your family is very important to us and we will keep you in our prayers.