Monday, January 9, 2017

Today's meeting with doctor

Hi friends and family,

Steve here.  

It was four years ago today that we got the word that Gabrielle was facing ovarian cancer.  Since then, we have all been on a roller coaster of emotions, treatments, experiences and such.  And today has been another ride on that same roller coaster with some not so great news.  It started out with the disappointing news that Gabrielle wasn't going to meet with her doctor as she had hoped, but one of her colleagues (highly experienced, quite good and all that, but still it was someone she had not met before).  Her doctor apparently had some medical issues of her own and couldn't be there.  

Today, we reviewed the results of the scan which was done on Dec. 29.  Cutting to the chase: "nothing is getting bigger, but equally nothing has gotten smaller either".  But the more concerning part of the report is that there is one area near the stomach and small intestines which has seen an uptick in the level of "activity" of the radioactive tracer.  In other words, her current medicines aren't doing much good and the cancer's heating up, or as the medical people like to call it "progressing", which is a term I'm not too fond of because I like to think of progress as something good, not of something getting worse.  You remodel a house and you make progress.  You order the extra large pizza and you make progress as you nosh your way through the whole thing.  I would like to think we're making progress against cancer, but sadly that's not the case.

Doctor said that the chemo is hitting Gabrielle pretty hard, with each successive treatment causing more problems to her health with more fatigue, suppressed bone marrow, bone pain, and nausea just to name a few.  We were given some options ranging from no meds at all, to a weekly double drug regimen (combo of drugs she has had before), but which came at the risk of bowel perforation (25% mortality rate if that occurred), to a daily pill (Cytoxan) for a couple of months.  After carefully weighing the options, and with good input from the doctor and her nurse, Gabrielle chose the daily pill.  We are also shifting gears a little.  Whereas before, the treatment plan was to kill the cancer (or a least try really, really hard), the new regimen is going to focus simply on keeping the cancer from getting worse, buying some time and giving her a break to improve her quality of life.    

Frankly, these results are the second to the last thing we had hoped for (last thing: it is spreading).  But no improvement and increased radioactive tracer uptake are quite discouraging.   Still, she feels OK physically.  We are all just getting reoriented to a new tack, to borrow a sailing term.  We are hoping that the Cytoxan will hold things in check for a while.  It's still tough on the immune system, so she needs regular labs as before, and must avoid being around anyone who is at all sick or has been exposed to a sick person at home/work.  It is also associated with some nausea, which may lessen after the first week (or may not).  We're hoping and praying for the best.

Well, friends, I wish I had better news to report, but that's not always the case.  I know many of you have been asking about Gabrielle lately, praying for her, and giving her (and all of us) much support in other ways (thanks for all the great fudge, by the way).  It means so very much to know you are with us in this very difficult journey.  

Daniel sent Gabrielle a song this morning before her doctor visit.  It is by the group, Casting Crowns, and is a perfect theme song for how we are feeling today.  Perhaps you can relate to having felt this way, or even feel this way now.   Let us encourage you with our firm belief that those tears we cry, God holds in His hand, and that He is by our side through all the joys and sorrows of this life.  The lyrics go like this:

I was sure by now, God you would have reached down

And wiped our tears away,

Stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say amen

That it's still raining

As the thunder rolls

I barely hear your whisper through the rain

I'm with you

And as your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise

The God who gives and takes away

And I'll praise you in this storm

And I will lift my hands

That you are who you are

No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise you in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind

You heard my cry you raised me up again

My strength is almost gone how can I carry on

If I can't find you

As the thunder rolls

I barely hear you whisper through the rain

I'm with you

And as your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise

The God who gives and takes away

And I'll praise you in this storm

And I will lift my hands

That you are who you are

No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise you in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The maker of heaven and earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The maker of heaven and earth

And I'll praise you in this storm

And I will lift my hands

That you are who you are

No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise you in this storm

And though my heart is torn

I will praise you in this storm

  Casting Crowns - Praise You In This Storm Lyrics | MetroLyrics