Claudia and Bill Dritlein

First post: Jun 29, 2022 Latest post: Dec 7, 2022
Claudia's Story
On Friday, June 10, 2022, our entire world got turned upside down. My mom, only 72 and still a seemingly healthy and active person,  woke up that morning feeling really dizzy and called me to take her to the hospital. She had tripped over a pool cord the day before, falling and getting a little scratched up including her face.  She didn't go to the doctor because she felt fine other than some bruises and scrapes.  We immediately assumed she had gotten a concussion from this fall so the hospital ordered a CT scan.  That's when we received devastating news.  My mom didn't have a concussion or any head trauma from her fall but instead had two metastasized lesions on her brain - brain cancer.  They also ordered an MRI. It not only confirmed the brain cancer but that there were more spots than the CT scan showed.  And the largest lesion was in a place on her brain that made it very risky to operate since it was close to the area that controls her motor skills. 

My mom had breast cancer a year ago.  It was stage one, hormone-based and non-aggressive.  A successful lumpectomy and radiation took care of it and they were confident she was cancer free.  We assumed that this is what had spread to her brain somehow, someway. We immediately went back to her Oncologist and she was stumped as it would be very rare that the type of breast cancer she had would spread to the brain.  They put her on steroids to reduce as much inflammation as possible and put into place a number of additional steps over the next two weeks. We met with a Neurosurgeon that first week.  His initial assessment was that is was not from another type of cancer and  instead she had glioblastoma, a cancer that originates in the brain. He also confirmed that because of its location and the various places it had spread, surgery really wasn't an option. However, in order to be sure what we were dealing with she had a brain biopsy. Over the next week, she had a pet scan, another MRI and a brain biopsy Thursday, June 23. We are still awaiting the pathology report from the biopsy but the neurosurgeon once again said he believes it will come back as glioblastoma.

We were so lucky to have found this when we did but are still praying it is something more treatable.  In general, brain cancer is not curable and glioblastoma is quite aggressive. It has been a very difficult 2+ weeks for everyone.  We are hanging on to hope and more quality time together.  She is feeling pretty good physically and they don't think she is really having any effects from the cancer at this point. This week we expect the pathology results and she has an appointment with the radiologist.  That will likely be the first step no matter what type it is. Treatment can't start until 14 days after the biopsy so for right now we are trying to keep her positive and appreciate the time we have together. 

Bill's Story
The news of my mom's cancer was made even more horrible because she takes care of my dad.  My dad was diagnosed with unspecified dementia several years ago. At first, it was more minor but over the past couple of years it has really started to take a toll.  He no longer can drive and his short-term memory is not good.  He has a hard time understanding things and finding his words. He physically functions okay but my mom currently has to do a lot for him. My mom's cancer diagnosis has been very hard for him to understand.  He is sad and he is scared because he knows she takes care of him.  We are in the process of determining next steps in caring for my dad since my mom really needs to be able to focus on her health.

Please pray for both of them and the rest of our family. We have so much to be thankful for and are blessed to have such a tight family.  We will stick together and make the most of every moment. But it is going to be tough. Thank you for caring, supporting and praying for us. 

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