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.