Cough – cancer’s new presentation

Thank you all for praying for us and walking with us along this path. Cancer changes you. You are always waiting for the shoe to fall and when it does it catches you by surprise. Please spread the word we are asking for a miracle once again. Please pray for Theresa’s physical healing if it is God’s will. It costs nothing, and may give God joy in answering a flood of requests for the same thing.

The end of December, our daughter caught a cold and was coughing for a few weeks. Toward the end of her cold, Theresa seemed to catch the same thing, but after three weeks of coughing and feeling like something was in her chest, we tried antibiotics without benefit. Toward her 8th week of coughing she also was getting shortness of breath, so we got an x-ray that showed mild enlargement of her heart (which was a potential side effect of her chemo), and an x-ray of her sinuses which was normal. The next day she was feeling more short of breath, we checked for heart failure and she didn’t have it, and by the weekend she felt her chest was heavy so we talked about calling her cancer doctor on Monday. Over the weekend she tried low dose steroids and that seemed to relieve some of the pressure, but she had progressive fatigue. Monday I called her oncologist with the history, he saw her that afternoon. He requested an Echo and CT of the chest and abdomen with contrast looking to see if she had return of her cancer. That Thursday we had the CT scan, but by that time she was feeling worse and worse, was only able to walk slowly, was very short of breath, and was having crushing chest pain. On the scout film it was obvious her heart shadow was now massive, which it wasn’t just a week ago. The CT showed a very large pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) between the heart and the pericardial sac (the sac that the heart is contained in). At this point I was very worried for a condition called cardiac tamponade which is life threatening. This was last Thursday.

We arrived at the cardiologist office for the echo, but I found a cardiologist to talk to, to see if it was better to go to the ER. Right then the Echocardiogram tech took her back for her echo and it was obvious she had cardiac tamponade and was with in a day of her heart stopping from the pressure. The cardiologist arranged it with a cardiologist at the hospital and an interventional radiologist to get the fluid off her heart. So we drove to the ER, they were waiting for her, got an IV in and took her to the CT scanner for guidance to drain the fluid. Since she was so symptomatic and her bp was low, they were not able to sedate her. As has been God’s practice, he showed up at the right time, gave her peace, took the pain, and walked with her in this procedure. They removed about 800cc (about 3/4 of a quart) of bloody fluid from around her heart and left a catheter drain in. Her cough pretty much resolved after this procedure.

Theresa spent the next two days in the ICU until the drainage was under 38cc in a 24 hour period, then they removed the drain. She had multiple Echos during her stay. She was given an additional diagnosis of pericarditis and placed on medications to control the inflammation and this also causes chest tightness and pain. The CT of the chest and abdomen didn’t show any evidence of cancer though. They sent the fluid for analysis for possible cancer cells. She went home Saturday night and we had a follow up with her cancer doctor today, as it wasn’t until today that he got the results. Over the past few days her cough had returned and she has had return of the chest tightness. She also felt like she did when she first got her cancer three years ago. After her oncologist visit today, we were sent immediately for a repeat echo to make sure the fluid didn’t return, which by the grace of God it didn’t. The cardiologist felt it was due to the pericarditis and increased the dose of her anti-inflammatory medications to see if that would help.

In this painful time, God provided a slight reprieve. All week Theresa has been nauseated and not interested in eating at all. Today she only had 1/2 a banana. As we were near the cardiologist office, she said, all of a sudden I am hungry and would like a Bonzi garden burger at Red Robin. I told her I would get her one. After the Echo, we had dinner and she ate at least half of it and some fries. And she said it tasted so good. We needed that.

On recap from three years ago. The biopsy from her breast showed cancer cells that were HERs-2neu expressed, while the biopsy of the lymph nodes didn’t have HERs-2neu receptors but 15% had estrogen receptors. After her surgery the breast tissue removed didn’t have HERs-2neu receptors but did have 15% estrogen receptors, so she was placed on an estrogen blocker after her immunotherapy targeting the HERs-2neu receptors. Both of those worked well. But now she has a third type of breast cancer, called triple negative – having no receptors to target. At this point there is only one viable treatment option available – a PARP inhibitor. Which will only work if she has a BRACA gene mutation. We have no idea if she has this mutation. So they are putting a rush on it and hopefully in a week we will know. If she doesn’t have the mutation, then there is nothing more to do and she will go on hospice care. She is declining pretty fast, having lost 11 pounds this week, finding it difficult to go up the stairs, resting and sleeping a lot. We pray for a miracle and God’s favor resting on her, but really what ever is God’s will, that is what we want.

We have already been given three blessed years, that we never would have had, and now some more time to be tender toward each other, cuddle, and talk with our kids.

We have appreciated you all, and covet your prayers. May the peace of God be yours as well. Oh how we wish we didn’t have to go through this anguish of soul, tears, sleepless nights, and loss. Yet this is our path chosen for us, and we will Praise our Lord in it all. Will keep you posted.


    • Melodee Bailey says

      Dr. Paul,

      Thank you for being so honest about everything. We will be praying for each of you to give you everything that you need, mental clarity, emotional health, physical strength and spiritual awareness of God’s presence. I also will pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you, Theresa and the doctors.

      Please know that we love your family and will continue to stand with you in prayer.

  1. Steve and Barb Freeman says

    Dear Dr. Paul, Theresa and family. . . .we cry out to the Lord on your behalf. Holding you all in our hearts.

  2. Ken and Joyce says

    We will sure be praying for you, Theresa and the family. We know when we give our life to God we do trust in His will. At times we sure don’t understand it but we trust anyway. We are so glad our Lord is your Lord. Praying !! Ken and Joyce Wichert.

  3. Glenn Palmer says

    I just got home from prayer meeting and saw your post on Facebook. I will be praying continually for Theresa’s healing and for you and your family. Also praying for her doctors that they will have divine guidance and wisdom.

  4. Linda Elder says

    So sorry to hear. I will pray that God makes the right choice for your family. I can only imagine how difficult this is for you all.

  5. Tina Kendall says

    My heart and prayers are with you! God sees the big picture and He knows the plan. I pray for strength, peace, joy and Healing if it be God’s will.

  6. Barb Powell says

    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Theresa has been so inspiring to all of us. Take care of each other.

  7. Jan Wagley says

    Dear Paul and Theresa, sending you prayers and love, this is so hard and very challengeing only God knows us and how he will take care of us during these trying times. It is always so hard when a family is DX with cancer. I have had it and it never changes. Just like you said you are always waiting for the shoe to drop and then what. Thinking of all of you ~!! May the Lord’s choicest blessing always be with you and your special family ~!!

  8. Jon Wiley says

    Dr. Paul,

    We are lifting up Theresa and your family to the Lord, earnestly asking for His mercy, peace, and healing. May He continue to reveal Himself to you in new ways each day.

  9. Priscilla Christenson says

    Dear Paul and Theresa I’m so sorry to hear this news and I will continue to pray for you and your family. Praying for God’s pease and love to surround you. God bless you and your family. Love, Priscilla

  10. Auntie Donna says

    Dear Paul, Theresa, and family, I am so sorry to hear that the cancer has returned. I hope you can feel all the love from the people that are praying for you. I pray that the love and prayers of so many people will surround you and bring you healing and comfort. You are in my heart and prayers. I love you. Auntie Donna

  11. Dianne Dorey says

    May God’s peace be with you. Praying for that miracle that only God can give. We are all given challenges for a reason. We rise to the occasion when necessary. You have served as great testimony to us all. God bless you.

  12. Kelly says

    Prayers for you and your family. May God keep his arms wrapped around your family during this time. I pray for comfort and peace knowing that his will is being done.

  13. Alene Palmer says

    Just read your last blog and will praying for all of you. We serve a mighty God and knows the desires of our hearts which is a miracle for Theresa!!

  14. Chuck & Janine says

    You are all in my prayers. I am just so sad that you are having to go thru this again and that Theresa is facing another fight. Prayers for peace and comfort for your family and a very special miracle.

  15. Annette Fragner says

    My heart felt prayers are with Theresa, you and your family. Following God, is the only way to direct our path. I am praying for a miracle. Blessings to you all…

  16. DeAnna Rooklidge says

    Paul, Theresa and family, we will be lifting you up to our Great God who is mighty to save.

  17. Lori Fischer says

    We continue to ask God for a miraculous healing for Theresa. May he surround your family with His peace.

  18. Elaine Stone says

    I have been praying for Theresa. Your family has exemplified how much we need to pray for God’s will.
    Warm thoughts and prayers for all of you.

  19. Denny Waller says

    Your family has been in my prayers for the past three years and they continue. May God bless you all.

  20. Doris and Bill says

    Our love and concern for you and your family come in hugs wrapped in hope and healing.

    Blessings of peace be given to you in abundance!

    Much love from the Brumsickles

  21. Susanne Weil says

    My prayers are going up for Theresa and for you and Matthew. As you say, God may feel joy in answering so many prayers!

  22. Matt and Kristi Stelzner says

    Paul and Theresa, we are praying with you. May the Lord give you and your family peace and strength through this.

  23. Mitch Dietz says

    Paul and Theresa your Family will continue to be in our prayers. We will walk with you through this journey. All of our love and prayers. Pastor Mitch

  24. Pearl Moltz says

    Dr. Paul….I am so sad at this news. Be encouraged because God is still on the throne. We ask complete healing…and God’s will through all. Please know that my heart is breaking for all of you and my prayers are all I have to offer you. God bless you all. Much love, Pearl

  25. Loren and Linda Krenelka says

    Paul and Theresa,
    God has shown His great love for you both. Fervently praying with your family for His will to be completed and for healing to take place. We love each one dearly. Loren and Linda

  26. Paul & Corinne Brassey says

    Peanut and I are praying for you and Theresa. May God’s grace and peace be with you.


    God bless your hearts. Saying many prayers to Father God for Theresa and you, Dr. Paul and your family. You all are a testimony by your love for Him and your trust in Him and His precious peace. I’m praying you feel Jesus wrapping His arms around you with His special comfort and love. And also praying for Father God to guide all the doctors and nurses caring for Theresa. My heart deeply goes out to you all.

  28. Amy Taylor says

    Heartbreaking news… you have our prayers. Your tender love story has been one I’ve always admired. Theresa is genuine and a beautiful gift to everyone she comes in contact with. Praying our kind Heavenly Father wraps your entire family up in His love and peace. I pray it is His will for more chapters in your story. Sending love your way…

  29. Dan and Nancy Duffy says

    The love and care your family so beautifully gives to each other and to all those around you is a testimony of God’s love for each of you. What a fantastic family . So glad we are your friends.
    Blessings to you.

    • Byron & Linda Perkins says

      We are praying for miraculous healing and for the entire Williams family.
      God Bless you all.

  30. Stephanie says

    We are praying for all of you – for God’s miraculous healing and for the peace only he can provide. You have such a beautiful family, it is heartbreaking to hear this news.

  31. Joyce and Chuck Downie says

    Thank you for all the care you have given to Our family. We are blessed to be able to call on Gods mercy for you and your family. Praying for healing Theresa and you all feel Gods closeness during this difficult time. Love you.

  32. Allen and Jill Jeffries says

    We also are lifting your family up in prayer and asking His arms wrap around each one of you giving you love and peace, as only He can.

  33. Cathy Kimball says

    Dear Paul, Theresa and family,

    You are all in our prayers throughout the day, multiple times.
    Love you Theresa .
    Love, Cathy and Scott Kimball & family

  34. Debbie says

    I am so sorry. Theresa, you are such a great friend and you and your family are such a beautiful example of faith and courage. I am praying for you all, and look forward to talking tomorrow.

  35. Jim and Jane Miller says

    Dear Paul,Theresa,Family, We pray for you every day and will continue to lift you up to our Heavenly Father asking for mercy and grace and help in this time of need. May you sense His presence and healing.
    Thank you so much for sharing with all of us and we join in the chorus of prayers for a miracle.
    Jim and Jane Miller

  36. Victor DeLair says

    Paul you and your family are in our prayers especially Theresa. We will continue to lift you all up in our prayers and pray for Gods will in all of this.

    In His love, Vic and Ruby DeLair

  37. Dell & Lessley Hillger says

    Dear Paul and Theresa,
    Loren and Linda passed your blog information on to us. You have been heavy on our hearts since talking with you in White Pass. We can’t even imagine how difficult this must be for you and your family. We have only gotten to know you a little but both you and your kids are such a blessing. We are praying for strength and peace and for another miracle of healing. Your faith and trust in our Heavenly Father is an inspiration.
    Love, Dell & Lessley Hillger

  38. Tammie Rutledge says

    Thank you for sharing and know that I am praying for you all. May God continue to give you HIS peace and strength. You are dearly loved.

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