She has never smoked, has always been careful about what she eats and about protecting her health. She exercised. And then, suddenly, her doctor found a tumor in her lung. That was in January 2012. Amazingly, the tumor was surgically removed, she was scanned, and no other cancer remained in her body. The doctors thought that a preventative 3-month chemo would assure no new cancer would occur. She did that, and it pretty much kicked her butt. She got through it, though, and we were all confident that was behind us.
Over the next 6 months there were ups and down. The chemo side effects and after effects were bad. Other weird things happened. Medications were added and subtracted. Doctors were changed and added. It seemed every possible side effect to every drug was suffered.
My sister has long hosted the family Christmas dinner. Several of us tried to convince her to take another path last year, but it was to no avail. She hosted the dinner and worked hard to make it a success. When she finally took her seat at the table, she almost overshot her chair. Her balance was that bad. I worried.
In early January it was discovered that she had a walnut sized tumor at the base of her brain. It was a metastasis of the lung cancer she had suffered earlier. Amazingly, a new neurological-oncologist had just move to Atlanta (where she lives) and she was able to get laparoscopic-robotic surgery. She did not even have a bandage, and she took 1/2 of a pain pill. That was it. She did lose her peripheral vision on both sides, though.
Again they scanned and probed — no cancer.
She had been given Decadron, a corticosteroid, after the brain tumor was found. It really helped her at first. She was able to see better, had better balance, and that was so wonderful. Over time, though, the Decadron seemed to work against her. She eventually became immobile. After 5 weeks in rehab and an attempt to wean off the Decadron, she was not much better. Two more tiny tumors were found in her brain. These were zapped with a Gamma Knife. That makes dents in her forehead where the apparatus holds her head still, but otherwise is not a huge deal.
She fell again at home and was taken to the ER for analysis and treatment. A few days in the hospital, another scan, and we find she has tumors in her liver. The cat is seriously out of the bag.
My niece, her daughter, is a fiend for research. She has been combing the Internet and questioning each treatment and recommendation. She found another oncologist who is of the new persuasion: figure out what kind of cancer the person has and then target the treatment to that cancer. That resulted in my sister getting a daily pill that works in 70% of the people who have the kind of cancer she has. Side effects are not as bad as with many chemos, although there are some that may well occur. Actually, some have already occurred, but we are fortunate that they are controlled by medication.
We have all been changed by this. Luckily, my sister hasn’t had much pain. I don’t know how I could deal with that. I have watched too many good friends and much-loved family members suffer and die from this disease. For my precious sister to go through that…I just don’t know.
In about a year there will be human trials of a drug that may inhibit the growth of all cancers. Won’t that be an incredible blessing for us all? Medical science has so many pros and cons. My niece is adamant about the medical machine that surrounds cancer treatment. I know it is there. I am sure that potential treatments have been suppressed because the powers that be won’t make money on them. Some wonderful developments have taken place, though, and I am so grateful for those. We need so much more. And I pray they will be in time for us.
Posting may be erratic for a while. I hope you understand.