We want to start by thanking you for your love and support of Carol. She’s an amazing woman who has beautifully touched all our lives. Someone once said it’s not the destination but the journey that matters. While we agree with the sentiment of that statement, that individual probably didn’t have a painful hip. About that hip……
As most of you know Carol likes to stay busy. We realize this is a slight understatement. She’s been dealing with a painful left hip for the last 4 months. It’s made it harder for her to get around – but didn’t keep her from her niece and nephew’s weddings this summer. Or hitting the dance floor. But the pain progressed.
About 2 weeks ago while preparing to get that bum hip replaced she developed shortness of breath and chest wall/upper back pain. This led to a local ER visit and imaging of her chest. Unfortunately the images revealed concerning lung nodules and a fracture of one of her thoracic vertebrae. The fracture was causing pain and spasms as it pinched the nerves to her chest wall. Crap.
We needed to quickly investigate these worrisome findings – therefore we dragged Harry and Carol from their serene but remote Reedville home to the Northern Virginia/DC metro area. We have a few too many people here but we also have a heck of a lot more medical resources than the Northern Neck.
Moving full speed ahead (as she usually does) Carol had a PET scan, CAT scans and a biopsy in short order. Throughout she has been maintaining an otherworldly positive attitude despite worsening pain from her hip and upper back. And she’s charmed everyone from the original pulmonologist to the wide eyed new nurses.
The results are very concerning but we have hope. Carol has metastatic melanoma. The tumor is in multiple organs especially concentrated in her left hip/pelvic region and the fractured upper back vertebral body. This is the cause of her pain. Fortunately there is no tumor in the brain or spinal canal. And her other organs are fully functioning. There are no skin lesions to show where the melanoma started – which unfortunately occurs. The treatment at this time is the same.
So what is my mother, the sassy red-headed high spirited nurse, doing? She’s fighting, with a smile and many diet cokes. Carol received the official diagnosis on September 28th – but had already started radiation therapy the day prior. She is undergoing daily radiation treatments to the hip and daily cyberknife highly focused radiation treatments to the vertebral body. Melanoma is one of the few cancers that have new effective treatments over the last 5 years – namely Immunotherapy. This is given by an IV and will start this week. And we’re already planning the future left total hip replacement with an orthopedic oncologist. You can’t keep this lady down – too much to do and she’s looking forward to dancing at her niece Elizabeth’s wedding next summer.
So back to that journey. We want to embrace every step with Carol. We love her and want her to lean on us, just as she’s helped all of us lean on her in times of need. And we’ll carry her. And treat her pain. And fight at her side. And we will relish every day of this part of Carol’s journey.