In late September, after a wonderful time hiking up to 10 miles a day and enjoying Croatia, Munich, Austria and Czech Republic, Joann came back to California to find out her slight cough and hip pain were symptoms of stage IV lung cancer. It had spread to several bones, hips and ribs, and the brain. Going from thinking its bronchitis or pneumonia to waiting for a detailed diagnosis has been filled with prayers, tears, and hope. She was pleased that Kaiser Permanente doctors proactively engaged and scheduled genetic tests, CT scans, MRI's, worked over weekends and accelerated her initial radiation treatments. She has had 5 on her hips for pain reduction (as well as reducing the cancer invasion there). She has completed 1.5 hrs in a radiation treatment called Cyber Knife (no knives involved, sub-millimeter accuracy) on her brain which targeted the small spots there. All these occurred before Thanksgiving, about 3 weeks ahead of what we thought possible. Very Grateful to God and the medical staff for their speed and attention.
She started (11/26) taking a gene therapy drug, Tagrisso, which targets the EGFR mutation and should eliminate recurrence in the brain and shrink the tumors elsewhere. The Tagrisso is a newly approved drug (April-2018) which was fast tracked through the FDA due to its superior abilities to fight EGFR. It is also the first to really cross the blood/brain barrier and really help remove lung cancer which has spread to the brain. Tagrisso has shown a median effectiveness for controlling the cancer of 18 months. This is better than any other presently developed.
We wondered how long has she had cancer or how is this possible, did we miss the signs? Our doctor's comments are that lung cancer is an inconspicuous disease with 40% showing up in stage IV. Joann's overall good health and fitness covered over the slight symptoms. Quickly the symptoms got worse. The two months from start of diagnosis to beginning treatment slowed her down considerably, increased the pain and shortened her breath. Since the end of radiation and only 9 days into Tagrisso (12/5) she has seen remarkable reduction of hip pain, returning breathing ability and Joann is walking 3 miles a day.
Please pray for healing, the effectiveness of the Tagrisso, for strength and comfort. God is in control. He has seen all of her days before he created her. We know and have confidence in his love and forgiveness. The life God has given to us remains wonderful and we continue in it with joy. We trust in Jesus and rest in his solid steady hands.