Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thoughts on Cancer and Churchill

Dear Family and Friends,

At the Dudley home, we have an elliptical machine in our basement that faces the TV.  This makes it immeasurably more fun to work out!  Recently while sweating away, I watched an outstanding documentary about Winston Churchill’s wartime years called “Appointment with Destiny.  I had always admired Churchill before, but after watching this portrayal, he rose to the auspicious rank as one of my top five favorite famous humans (apologies for the “f-words alliteration). 

Five of his quotes have particularly stuck with me, as I am in a life and death battle with cancer, obviously on a much smaller scale than Churchill’s (hereafter WC) battle with Hitler.

1)  Since Steve last reported to you after my 12/29 scan, a few things have happened.  I began a new daily oral chemo drug called Cytoxan on January 10th, and two weeks later, had to go to the ER due to intense pain from my chest down to my lower abdomen that would not go away.  The ER doc was to rule out things like heart attack or a blood clot in my lungs.  Thankfully, I was cleared of both worries, so I soldiered on with the Cytoxan.  “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”--WC  The hourly, daily suffering continued—indigestion, gas, bloating, heartburn, and a general unwell feeling.  After a month, I couldn’t take it any more and the doc told me to stop the Cytoxan immediately, as it was doing more harm than good.  

2)  Next, the doctor told me tests had revealed an infection, so she started me on antibiotics, and to heal my stomach and intestines from the toxicity of the Cytoxan, she put me on a “low residue diet.”  Basically I get to eat things that are low fiber, low fat, and super easy to digest until I heal.  I am normally a high fiber eater, so it is just mildly irritating to have to eat canned peaches and green beans and unbuttered peeled potatoes for dinner while Steve and Daniel are having roast chicken, lobster bisque, and broccoli!  Every day I anxiously wonder whether or not my guts will heal before my trip to Maui, for we have reservations at a top-rated sushi restaurant there that is exceedingly difficult to get into!  But I must quit worrying, for “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead.  The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”--WC

3)  I know that pride is a sin…but I am no saint, and I guess I have prided myself on being able to handle all the chemos the oncologists have thrown at me.  I’ve had chemos make me nauseous, ones that make me so tired and out of breath I can barely walk up our stairs, and had one that leaked out my surgery stitches in copious amounts such that I had to keep putting clean towels on top of my bandages on top of my stitches, and the towels would soak through every hour all day long!  And (with God’s help, of course) I handled it!  But this Cytoxan beat me to a pulp.  I couldn’t cope with 10-12 hours a day of pain that didn’t go away with medicine, despite the admonition to Never, never, never give up.”--WC  I still agree with Churchill’s famous phrase in theory, but sometimes, you just have to admit your latest chemo drug has defeated you and yes, give up. 

4)  The last news I received this week is that despite that horrific month of daily chemo, my CA-125 ovarian cancer tumor marker took quite a jump up, from 33 (normal is 0 to 35) to 57.  L  I had to cry most of yesterday over this news.  Renee is living in her own home now and Daniel and Steve were at work.  So I sat at home in mismatched jammies (navy with cherries on top and turquoise and white polar bears on bottom) and cried ‘til my eyes were pretty much puffed shut.  Then mid-afternoon, six hours before his work shift was to end, Steve’s Honda turned into our driveway.  I thought you might need me today, so I found someone to come in and finish my shift for me.--SD  There are moments when you are so filled with love for your spouse that you think you will burst.  This was one of those moments!  My spirits renewed, we played Scrabble, I enjoyed my tasteless, easy to digest dinner, and we held hands while watching our favorite shows.  

I am done crying for now, and though I will not soon forget the Cytoxan disaster, or the fact that four different chemo regimens have not cured me, I am moving forward.  Today I enjoyed a long walk with Steve in the spring-like weather and we worked on our conversion of Renee’s old bedroom to a “grandkids room” for Jericho and future grandkids, complete with “Welcome to the Jungle” themed bedding and large, framed prints of six different types of baby animals.  What fun!  And when we return from Maui, I will begin a fifth chemo regimen, ever prayerful and hopeful that the new approach will cause the enemy to retreat.  Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”--WC

Lastly, I could not imagine having to face this powerful foe without my deep faith in God, built through years of experiencing His love, strength, and peace, while watching Him supply all my needs.  Thanks be to God! I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”--WC

Love,

Gabrielle

P.S.  See aforementioned jammie combo below.  Maybe on my 57th birthday, which is this Saturday, I will make an effort and wear a matched set!  J