In mid February 2018, Maureen was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Chemo therapy started immediately thereafter. Extensive surgery was performed on May 21st. It was considered successful in that it removed all visible cancer. Fortunately, no critical organs were infected. The post surgery round of chemo addressed any remaining lymph cancers that were not surgically accessible and escaped the initial round.
At the time of diagnosis, the cancer marker in Maureen's blood CA 125 registered over 3,400 vs normal under 35. Month by month, treatment by treatment with surgery in the middle, that number came down dramatically by the end of August to 19... yes 19! Furthermore, a PET scan of her body revealed no signs of cancer and the elusive lymph nodes had died. Altogether, this has been a remarkable emotional rollercoaster. Her oncologist, normally not given to exaggeration, characterized the six month outcome as "great!" Unfortunately, the progress wasn't durable. The cancer returned, to her abdomen and, subsequently metastasized to her brain. Fortunately, the recurrence was limited in terms number and size of lesions.
Radiation therapy on the brain started on the day after Christmas 2018, for ten consecutive days. Chemo therapy for the abdomen was restarted immediately at the conclusion of radiation.
Thankfully, there has been no direct discomfort from the cancer. However, Maureen has endured considerable side effects from the therapies, most notably heavy fatigue and skin irritation.
Maureen has been suffering since spring 2017 from a painful rare auto immune disease called mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP). It attacked her mouth and was resistant to all drug attempts to subdue it or even mitigate the pain. In retrospect, the undetected cancer may have interfered with her immune system's ability to use the drugs to knock down the MMP. Maureen has received over a dozen infusions of immunoglobulin with more to come.
Therapy side effects can include mouth sores so it's been difficult to discern the cause of the ongoing mouth pain, especially since the MMP is so rare and understudied.
A few weeks after Maureen's radical surgery in late May, John's back discomfort increased significantly. The caregiver role was abruptly reversed and despite her delicate condition, Maureen rose to the occasion. John was diagnosed with a slipped disk and compressed nerve. He had successful spinal surgery at the end of August barely three months after Maureen's operation.
Throughout this extremely challenging experience, Maureen has been strong physically, emotionally and spiritually. However, as she reaches the 1st anniversary of the diagnosis on February 14, endurance is being tested, especially as she fights the side effects of the therapies. She's remarkable... indeed inspirational.
Please check in along the journey for reports on Maureen's progress. And join us in this battle as science is boosted by your prayers to keep Maureen on the road to good health.