Hi, folks. Steve here again.
We had a delightfully restful time over Christmas which I don't need to bore you with. We'll just leave it at "aloha" and you can fill in the blanks. Though, I am sure that Gabrielle plans to upload a few pics of me in my Speedo on some sandy beach, so that's definitely something you'll want to skip (fair warning).
On a more immediate note, Gabrielle went in for her latest Avastin infusion yesterday. In the process, they checked the CA-125 (the tumor marker), and it had gone up from 14.1 to 16.5. It is still well within the normal range, but it is inching up and I don't like the trajectory. Goal is to keep it under 20. As a reminder, it was around 135 when she was diagnosed two years ago today.
In spite of our wonderful time in Hawaii, it hasn't been easy for Gabrielle lately. Starting in October, shortly after her mother passed away, she started getting daily migraines which have persisted till now. We don't know why, though theories abound. Is it a drug side effect? Persistent stress? Just the way it is? Anyhow, they are pretty debilitating and that's just not good. In addition, her blood pressure, which has always been rock bottom, has gone up to the point where she is now on blood pressure medication. That last problem is a side effect of the Avastin. And the back pain continues. But she is a trooper and is still maintaining a cheerful and upbeat attitude through it all.
I will finish by telling you that today is an anniversary, if you will, albeit a dubious one at that. As I mentioned above, it was two years ago today that Gabrielle was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a day that forever changed our lives. It has been quite a journey since then...many sorrows, tears, fears, but also a lot of delights and joys as well. We have been the recipients of an outpouring of grace, love and many acts of kindness and are humbled by your kindness to us. I wrote a note to a patient yesterday who had just shared news of her sister's ovarian cancer diagnosis in November. In the note, I mentioned the word "journey" as well. It seems that's a good metaphor as journeys have their ups and downs, waysides, pleasant vistas, storms, etc. However, I also told her that perhaps another word to use would be "Shanghaied". I don't know if that's a politically correct term or not, but it alludes to the fact that people would go into bars on the waterfront, and then either get conked on the head or have something slipped into their drinks to knock them out. Next thing you know, they'd be at sea hundreds of miles from port, impressed into service, unwilling sailors to say the least. Talk about recruiting strategies! Well, that's what this feels like. Nobody ever asks to get cancer. It is thrust upon them. But it's here and we need to deal with it. And Gabrielle has weathered the problem of being Shanghaied oh so well and I am proud of her. She is my hero.
Next month (dare I say it?), she turns 55. Our mantra for the year will be: "55, it's great to be alive!". Yes, cancer, makes you aware of the blessing of life and it is indeed a blessing to have her with us and we are spending time living in the present and wringing as much as we can out of it. Blessings to you too.