Jan 30, 2019 Latest post:
Mar 13, 2019
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. Please feel free to still call and visit (we love Visitors!), but at least you'll be able to spend your time talking to us about what you care about, and less so about the Cancer. We appreciate your support, prayer and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
This journey somewhat began in December 2017. Before Christmas that year, Hannah and Lynne met in the Big Island of Hawaii to use Hannah's timeshare and spend time together for an early Christmas celebration. For more than 6 months leading up to the trip, Lynne didn't think she'd be able to come, due to work and other commitments, but a couple months before, she finally said "You know what, you only live once...I'm coming!" And, we're so glad she did! It was on that trip that she first started noticing something was wrong. While hiking back up the beautiful, steep incline from Waimea Valley, Lynne expressed extreme fatigue. We didn't think much of it, thinking she was just a bit out of shape, although there were much older couples passing us up the incline.
A few weeks after returning from Hawaii, Mom was noticing consistent, abnormal bowl movements. It had been six years since her last colonoscopy, so she decided to go get it checked. The results were 5 polyps all of which came back as carcinogenic and linked back to Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) in her right breast. We knew it wasn't good that the breast cancer had metastasized to the colon and rectum, but were eager to learn more about the prognosis and get a treatment plan in place.
From there, Mom underwent nearly two weeks of tests, including an MRI, which revealed the presence of Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) in the meninges surrounding her brain. LC is a highly rare side effect of other advanced cancers whereby your Central Nervous System becomes attacked; it is also sometimes referred to as Leptomeningeal Disease.
Since LC presents a high risk of cerebral damage, her amazing oncology team kicked it into gear and immediately started a month of daily targeted radiation treatments to her brain. During this time, mom couldn't drive but continued to work and go to radiation; we are so blessed that our amazing family, especially mom's sister, Brenda, were able and willing to drive her to and from work and her doctor's appointments each and every day.
Only after completing radiation did she begin Chemo treatments. From April until October, Lynne underwent chemo rounds at the cadence of once a week for three weeks, skip a week, then once a week for three more weeks. Typically, Chemo happened on Thursdays, as the next day (Fridays) mom was usually okay, but 48 hours later, she often could hardly lift her head off her pillow. This cadence at least allowed her the weekend to recover. Throughout this entire time, Mom continued to go to work nearly every day, only cutting back her hours to accommodate her appointments on Thursdays.
In October, her PET and CAT scans came back clear. Her Oncology team said it was a miracle and we began major celebrations for remission!! On October 22nd, the incredible team at Children's Health Services, where mom has worked for 13 years, threw her a surprise "Survivor" party -- She Kicked Cancer's Butt!!! Hannah and Mandy were so excited, we decided to celebrate by booking a trip for the Cheadle Girls to celebrate Christmas 2018 at Disney World in Orlando!
Mom's Lumpectomy surgery was scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving; a measure her oncology team wanted to take to remove the tissue at the source site of the right breast. During the surgery, they expected to remove a few lymph nodes. Unfortunately, they pulled 25 lymph nodes out that all still came back positive for cancer -- it turns out, Lynne was never in remission; her type of cancer just doesn't show up on their scans -- super rare and incredibly heartbreaking and disappointing to find out weeks after so much hope was restored. It got worse, however...based on the surgery results, Mom's doctors ordered another MRI -- her second since this journey began. The MRI results showed that the LC persisted and had now spread down her spine, fully infecting her Central Nervous System.
Her doctors wanted her to start chemo and radiation again immediately; however, since the treatments need to be continuous, they encouraged mom to consider canceling her trip to Disney World. She refused, wanting to spend the time and make the "Magical Memories" with her daughters and son-in-law for Christmas. Thus, her treatments awaited her return.
On January 2nd, she began daily targeted radiation to her spine and cerebellum, as well as recommenced Chemotherapy. These high toxicity treatments began to take a bigger toll on Lynne than they once did, now starting from a much weaker state. On Tuesday January 22nd, her oncologist suggested the option of stopping all aggressive treatments in favor of palliative care and a higher quality of life. Mom agreed.