We have just come back from a marathon session with Dr. M. and her staff as they outlined the course ahead. Dr. M. spent a good hour with us and went over quite a few things in great detail. She reviewed the final pathology report of tissues samples which she took during surgery and it was pretty much what we expected: stage 3 of the most common type of ovarian cancer. Next stop: a visit with Whitney, a very kindly and gentle medical assistant who removed Gabrielle’s staples. She didn’t fill in the area with that nifty gold epoxy that they use in kintsugi pots, but I didn’t mind one bit. When all that was said and done, we spent another 45 minutes with Janelle, the infusion nurse, who went over the full course of therapy and specifics of what’s coming and what to expect.
I was taking notes as Janelle talked so as to be as accurate as possible. I realize that I have a little more medical expertise, so am paraphrasing the more technical aspects of what she said to make it more understandable to non-medical readers. Here is the “cut to the chase, just the facts, Ma’am” version a la Joe Friday from Dragnet:
The treatments will begin with accessing the transdermal, sub-phreno osseo revergitating, galvanic squamous gelatinite through a simple process of reverse osmo chrysallic thrumbo strapullian instillation. This, in turn, will result in the egress of the outflow tract of the sub xerophytic, flangian Avogadrian quasi colloidispherical semi luminiscal chemo therapeutic fluxism. At this point, the thermoregulatory encrypted prions of the aforementioned fluxism will need to be circumferentially redirected through the islets of Langerhans via the sub-equatorial crenellations. This, being a critical step in the whole process, will require close monitoring through a previously arranged portal for the Franz Kafta kebabian incubus. At this juncture, the cruciferollius discombobbitizes the soylent green via a gymnoelastic dingle shaft fluxor resulting in an antipyogenic sterile cuckholdian flamdoodle. The multi disparturian fallo-oophorian applebeesian strudel und schnitzel vit noodles sequentially supinates toward the oscillatory thrimjig of the molokini sporulations. This infuscation will then kiegelitate…a simple process in which the kalipygian steato heptadiode motates and mishkinizes its humptillian throckmorton. Repeat weekly till 18 sessions are done.
All kidding aside, Gabrielle will be getting two different medications: one through the portacath in her upper chest every week for 18 weeks, and a separate one every three weeks instilled directly into her peritoneum (abdominal cavity). As such, every third week will be the toughest as she will be getting two medications. Her first treatment is set to begin in three days. The medicines have the potential to decrease her white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells. Therefore, prior to each session, she needs a blood draw to make sure everything is OK.
Common side effects include fatigue (a huge problem), nausea, a metallic taste in the mouth, peripheral neuropathy and (sadly) hair loss, all of which we expected. Gabrielle will be getting a concoction of medicines prior to the treatments including steroids (dexamethasone), anti-nausea meds and some antacids as well. She was encouraged to conserve her energy and focus on using what little energy she has wisely, picking the things that are most important to do first, whatever that may be. Rest is important, but also activity. She even got the go ahead to go to the gym—in modest amounts, once she is up to it (not right now).
During our time with Dr. M., Gabrielle made a point of telling her that she didn’t want to know statistics about ovarian cancer at this stage, as the important thing is that she is one person fighting this, not simply a number. She did ask if Dr. M. could give her a success story to hang her hopes on during the chemotherapy period. Dr. M.’s face brightened into a big smile and quickly responded that she had tons of success stories and volunteered to contact one of her patients who has been through this same stage and beaten it and have her call Gabrielle with words of encouragement. That sounds like a good plan to me.
Dr. M. had to race out as she is heading to a national conference where she will be speaking to her peers on, guess what? Ovarian cancer! Gabrielle and I feel very blessed that we have gotten someone so knowledgeable in her field that her peers look to her for the latest updates. By comparison, the best I've gotten is publishing a tip in a medical journal on how to remove ear wax.
So now we’re back home, relaxing in front of the gas fire, and letting all this information sink in. Gabrielle has just finished reading several very encouraging cards and is now asking for Kleenex as she never fails to be touched by the warmth and compassion that is expressed in them. You are all very dear to us.
Here’s looking ahead to Friday: day 1 of chemo! You go, girl!