Monday, December 24, 2012

Looking Back at 2012

Kay and I were reminiscing about 2012 yesterday and we were surprised that we both remember mostly the good parts of the year.  2012 has been an incredibly eventful year for our family that roughly speaking involved two parts.  The first part involved Kay’s no-holds-barred attack on her ovarian cancer recurrence.  From Jan through July she went through first surgery to try to remove the known remaining tumor, then an aggressive and very difficult combined intra-peritoneal and intravenous regime of chemotherapy, and finally a course of whole-pelvis radiation to shoot for  a long-term remission or even what Dr. Swisher hinted at, a cure.  The emotional highs and lows involved in this undertaking were tough at times. First the surgery where no cancer was seen in the abdominal cavityà great news, followed by news that the surgical margins where the cervix was removed not being cancer free à bad news.  This shift in prognosis came in just a few days.  On the tail of that came the realization that the intraperitoneal chemo was going to be much tougher than any chemo Kay had faced yet, while the whole time dreading the unknown of radiation to follow.  The discomfort of the chemo and the fatigue of the radiation seemed to drag on forever.  Kay really hates feeling like she has to just rest and not be able to do much more than just make it from day to day on these treatments.
In late July Kay finally started to get some energy back and we started planning more fun, travel and higher energy activities. We even took a hike at Sunrise on Mt. Rainier, getting close up looks at mountain goats and spectacular scenery. We took our summer trip to Maine and made plans for a fall trip to the mid-Atlantic area and our December trip to Cabo San Lucas. Then just 2 months after her last radiation therapy, and before our east coast trip, we learned that her tumor marker, the CA-125 level, was starting to climb, and hopes of a long remission or cure were dashed.  All of this led to yet more doctor appointments, consultations with Kay’s Seattle Cancer Care Alliance surgeon, and looking at options from here. 
The consensus is that Kay should not hurry to more treatment and that the primary goals of treatments in the near future need to be to prevent progression of the cancer to an advanced stage while trying to minimize side effects of treatment.  The goals of long term remission from an aggressive course of combinations of chemotherapy have not been very effective and Kay needs to instead focus on living with cancer and managing this with the least toxic regimens available. There is always the hope of a breakthrough in treatment that could give better results at some time, but currently available treatments have not done more than less toxic options may provide. We have tentative plans for relatively easy treatment when the cancer starts to progress to a stage where Kay feels less well, or there is evidence of cancer progression other than just the CA-125 marker.
Despite all of this Kay feels strong, healthy and really good right now.  Her spirits are high, and physically she is near 100%.  We just got back from a great 2 ½ week Mexican vacation, half with friends then half with family. We are home for the holidays and life is good.  We don’t anticipate further treatment for some undetermined number of months and are enjoying life.  Looking back at the year we both are amazed that we feel like it was a pretty good year, mostly fond memories, some great times, and the difficult times seem like a hazy distant memory.  We joke that this is the remarkable ability of the human mind to block out the bad memories and focus on the good ones.
Both of our children continue to thrive, Jean working at Blue Nile diamond in the accounting department and Brett running his own company of web assets while both live in nearby Seattle.
We are grateful for the continued love and support of all of our friends and family, for the joy and peace of Christmas, and for these months of feeling strong and good. Thanks for all of your love and prayers.
Kay & Ed