As many of you already know, Erin was recently diagnosed with Locally Recurrent Rectal Cancer (LRRC). She was initially diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015, had a colectomy in early 2016, and a follow-up colonoscopy showed that the cancer had returned, leading doctors to believe that it is this recurring type of colorectal cancer. A PET scan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positron_emission_tomography
) also showed a cancerous lymph node in her pelvis. This was biopsied and they are still awaiting those full results. With the verification of the PET scan, this is the extent of cancer in her body. Yet the fact that it has spread to the pelvic area (another part of her body) defines this as a Stage IV cancer.
She started chemotherapy under the care of her oncologist Dr. Stephanie Jeske from CPMC on 10/27. She will receive chemo (through a port-a-cath that was placed on 10/26) every 2 weeks for the next 6 months and then assess how the cancer has responded. They may try radiation depending on the effectiveness of the chemo and will talk to different doctors of their opinions of surgical intervention at that time.
She also had an appointment with a Stanford oncologist on 10/30 as Dr. Jeske has encouraged them to get second opinions: the more great minds on "Team Erin" the better. Erin and Copeland feel incredibly supported and confident with Dr. Jeske - Dr. Jeske gave Erin her direct line to call her at any time, night or day with questions or concerns. The Stanford appointment confirmed that they are on the best treatment path with Dr. Jeske. The plan is to return to Stanford in 3 months to review surgical options pending the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. In addition to the oncologists, Erin is also working with Dr. Erin McCoy, a gastroenterologist.
Simultaneously, Erin recently went through an egg retrieval process at UCSF. Chemotherapy and radiation to the pelvic area can cause genetic changes in oocytes and sperm, so before starting the chemo process, it is often recommended to retrieve the eggs. The retrieval process went well and the doctor retrieved a strong number of healthy good size eggs.
Ways to help Erin & Copeland:
As Copeland says, "we [they] love receiving all the calls, texts, emails and cards from loved ones. Sometimes we will be able to respond and sometimes we won't be up for it. But keep them comin'!"
So yes, please keep reaching out and sending all the love and support they need. And when you plan visits, you can always offer to help with things like bringing groceries, taking their laundry to be done, rides to appointments, running errands... but Erin and Copeland agree that the most help is spending time with them; telling stories, making them laugh and being present in their lives.
We also will be creating a GoFundMe to raise money towards the growing and significant medical costs Erin and Copeland are facing. Be on the look out for a future email with that campaign coming to you soon https://www.gofundme.com/helping-erin-our-warrior
If you reach out and don't hear back from Copeland and Erin, please try not to be concerned. Their top priority is to focus on their health and getting through treatment, taking the time and space Erin needs to treat this cancer and heal. If you haven't heard from them and do get worried, Erin's sister Blair and their friends Carolyn, Shannon and Erin W. have organized to efficiently deliver information on Erin and Copeland's behalf so that everyone is roughly on the same page. Reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Erin faces a difficult and long road ahead and she and Copeland both feel it is important that friends and family understand the details of the challenge. Copeland says, “Dr. Jeske believes that given the nature of this cancer being recurrent, curing this cancer will be a challenge and that she/we expect Erin’s results to be exception rather than the rule when it comes to curing metastatic cancer.” Erin is strong and determined to fight this, with her partner Copeland at her side and all of us behind them.
On behalf of Erin and Copeland, thank you for your care, love and support.