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Mom's story begins in October 2016, when she began to experience a strange tightness in her mid-chest area as well as have a bit of trouble swallowing food. She didn't think too much of it, but she did mention it to her primary care doctor. He recommended that they should schedule an endoscopy to check things out, and he also increased the medication that she was taking for acid reflux. She has been on that medication for a number of years.
Before the endoscopy could be scheduled, on November 9th, Mom had a stroke. Thankfully, it was a relatively minor one, and her ability to think and speak were not affected. She does have some residual loss of sensation on the left side of her body, but she has been able to walk without assistance, even up and down stairs at her condo. The conclusion that the doctors drew about her stroke is that is was likely due to her atrial fibrillation. She spent a couple of nights in the hospital and then went to an inpatient rehab at Fanny Allen. She ended up staying at rehab a few days shy of three weeks, and she worked really hard on PT and OT while she was there.
While she was at rehab for the stroke, they did a CAT scan to explore what was going on with the swallowing and pressure in her chest. Long story short, they found esophageal cancer that had metastasized to the liver and lymph nodes. This was the day before Thanksgiving. A week later (11/30) she was released from Fanny Allen having completed the inpatient part of the rehab.
To follow up the CAT scan, they scheduled an endoscopy to get a biopsy of the tumor and help determine follow up care on Friday 12/2. On Thursday, mom was looking pretty pale and had a hard time doing the activities that were no problem two days before. So right after the endoscopy, Kevin pushed for them to do a blood test and they found that her hemoglobin level was dangerously low. She was readmitted on Friday night and given blood to get levels back to normal. They also determined that the bleeding was coming from the tumor in the esophagus. They did release her on Saturday feeling much better.
On Monday (12/6), we met with the radiation folks and they staged the cancer as Stage IV. The initial goal would be to do radiation to stop the bleeding and reduce the tumor size to mitigate other symptoms (swallowing, etc). There will also be meetings with the Chemo folks to see if that would be done also. This is all happening before the initial results from the biopsy are in later this week.
We did notice on Monday that mom was looking pale by the evening. She woke up Tuesday with very low energy and it was decided that she should go back to the ER to get her blood tested again. She was initially going to do the blood test at her Dr's office, but with how low her energy level was, it was decided the ER was a better choice and she was transported via ambulance.
In the ER, they found that her blood hemoglobin level was down close to where it was on Friday when she was admitted. This afternoon, she was readmitted and given more blood. They also moved up the mapping for the radiation to tomorrow morning instead of later in the week and will also start radiation treatments tomorrow which were originally scheduled for next week. They really want to control the bleeding as soon as possible especially with how fast she was losing blood. The initial thought was about 2.5 weeks of radiation. The doctor thought that would be enough to relieve the worst of the symptoms she is having. We'll cross our fingers and hope he's right.
We are expecting that she will be in the hospital for a few days (at least Thursday) until she is stabilized so we don't have a repeat of today. We are also expecting that the Chemo folks will touch base with her later this week to start exploring the possibilities for Chemo treatments at some point. There is also a team meeting on Monday where they will get together and talk about treatment options. Normally, they would have waited to start radiation until after this meeting, but with the bleeding, they moved the whole timeline up.
This is the story from late October until now. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone you feel might like some updates now and then. I don't know how regularly we will post here, but will certainly pass along bigger events/pieces of information. Once she gets stabilized, she is open to phone calls or visits. I'm guessing that those that will want to call or visit most likely have her phone/email and can contact her. If not, please let me know and I'll help you connect.