Thank you Father for walking with us in this time. Thank you for holding our hands, for being faithful, for giving hope where there seemed to be none. And thank you for answering prayer.
Thank you, to all of you for praying for Theresa, for I believe God has been pleased to answer those prayers in real ways even now.
Last week when I wrote our blog, Theresa was going down hill pretty fast. She had severe nausea, even sipping water hurt and made her terribly nauseated. She spend the whole day in her chair sleeping and had no intake. Theresa was having more and more chest pain and shortness of breath. We decided to call hospice and get her on it Friday as it didn’t look like she would make it through the weekend at the rate she was declining.
We had already stopped her Indocin for her pericarditis, but Friday she stopped taking colchicine as she was declining fast. Then something miraculous happened, she started getting better and better. We don’t know if it was just stopping the medications, or all the prayers offered, but either way we give God the honor and thanks for this change in condition.
We had a family birthday get together on Sunday and Theresa was able to eat, and talk with family for 4 hours. She had a very good time, as did all of us. Through the rest of this week her condition has stabilized. She is still tired, gets up late in the morning, eats a small amount a couple of times a day, still has her chest pain, shortness of breath on going up stairs or walking more than just a little distance. Her cough persists, and has to sleep at an angle otherwise she can’t stop coughing. But now she is up most of the day, pain is controlled, able to eat and has a reasonable quality of life.
Because of this obvious improvement of condition and because her CT scan didn’t show her liver or lungs with any obvious cancer other than around her heart, we decided to talk with her oncologist. He informed us there could be another treatment option, a non-targeted treatment, more of a shot gun approach. Previously we were under the impression there was nothing more that could be done, but he informed us of a couple of older treatments.
Her tumor load as far as we know is very low, mainly around her heart. And there is a possibility if she got a low toxicity chemotherapy that can get into the pericardium, then possibly she could go in remission again, or at least have a better chance at making it to a few important events this year: one of our son’s graduation from high school, another getting his AA, our yearly family trip and our 25th wedding anniversary this summer. We feel God is giving us an opportunity that all of you are part of.
Because Theresa is doing better, we had decided Monday to go ahead and set up the cardiology follow up appointment and if the fluid was returning around her heart, have it drained again, allowing her a better chance at getting to the summer.
I talked with her Oncologist this morning, found out she doesn’t have the BRACA gene, so the PARP treatment is not an option. He did bring up two older treatments that could do the trick for her pericardial infiltrates with low risk of side effects. We looked these up and at the possible benefit. So I called his office and were able to see him this afternoon. (He has always been gracious with his time with us). We talked with him about the two options Vinorelbine and Gemcitabin. Theresa has decided to try Vinorelbine as there is a good chance it can stop her coughing and substantially decrease the chance of the fluid around her heart returning. Both of these palliative measures would be welcome. And the benefit could be more than palliative.
Theresa has a history of not tolerating most medications and having severe side effects from them, but she is willing to give this a try. Her oncologist says these medications are usually well tolerated even in 80 year old women. So next week Theresa will get a treatment and if she tolerates it, she may get another port placed as Vinorelbine is irritating to veins.
So the question arises. Why not just let the cancer take its course? That is a viable question. Usually when people have metastatic cancer, it has spread through out their body so it is a matter of time before it takes over. With Theresa’s case, there is evidence that it hasn’t spread to that extent yet and actually the seeding of her pericardium could have occurred 3 years ago and has slowly returned. It is possible the rest of her body is still free of cancer. If this is the case, why not try to get rid of the cancer in this hold out area. But if this isn’t the case, at least it will reduce Theresa’s symptoms and may allow her to get through the summer. In my mind this isn’t a desperate attempt but actually a reasonable option. We are comfortable knowing that Theresa will be with God in heaven some day, and we also know the kids and I will carry on when that happens. Nothing desperate in our thinking at all. But it seems that we have been given a door to go through, and with you along with us, see what God has in store. This is a continuation in our walk of faith.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT.
Thank you for your continued prayers. Will keep you posted.
addendum: After Theresa read this post, she felt I probably confused you all and needed to clarify better. She being triple negative and unable to tolerate standard shot gun chemotherapy (as her last dose of chemotherapy almost killed her, and she was told she could not have chemo anymore), we believed, until today, that there were no other options available that she could tolerate. She is still on hospice and this treatment is comfort care initially and if she responds well, and tolerates it, there is a low possibility it could be more than palliative and in that case, she would go off of Hospice and continue active treatment. Hopefully this clarifies better. Theresa also wants to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. She has felt peoples prayers and being lifted up. She has felt so grateful for you all.