Hello, beloved family and friends! If I had all the time in the world, I would tell every one of you all of these things myself, but I am thrilled to say that there are just too many of you. I hope that you will follow the story here, as it unfolds. Updates are in the Journal section, with the most recent first.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2007, went through a year of multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, followed by five years of hormone therapy. I was declared cancer free in 2014, and all treatment was stopped.
I was aware of no symptoms at all until just a couple of days before Thanksgiving 2021, when my right arm started to swell. A few days later I started to have numbness in my index finger, which became more painful every day. I now know that the weight loss I experienced starting a few months earlier was probably connected to the cancer too.
My primary care doctor acted very quickly when I reported the numbness in my hand. I had some scans and tests the next day and appointments with surgical and medical oncologists the next week. We learned that I have a mass in my chest wall that is pressing on the artery and nerves to my right arm, as well as cancer in my bones, from my skull to the top of my femur.
Because of the location of the cancer, its hormone-receptor status, and my prior treatment, the only option for now is chemotherapy. I had a good response to the first drug we tried, so if you are the praying sort, please pray that it keeps working for a long time. Once this drug stops working, we'll switch me to another. There just aren't very many choices for me, so we're trying to get as much time from each one as we can. Metastatic breast cancer is always terminal, but I hope to outrun it for as long as possible.
I have wonderful support from my children, family, and friends, who are helping me with all sorts of things, and keeping my spirits up! I started my treatment at the Yale Smilow Cancer Hospital's Greenwich breast center, and have now moved to a specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering. This means a trip in to the city at least once every four weeks, but the good news is that I only live a few blocks from a train station. I am able to do some things by telehealth, and others at MSK's Harrison location, but my oncologists are all on the Upper East Side.
To read about my first cancer go-around, visit https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/karenkarpow
Here's a quick summary of the time between then and now. All my children launched wonderfully, and are fully employed and settled in Burlington, Brooklyn, and Boston, with my stepdaughter in DC. Serge and I got divorced just before I moved from Danbury to White Plains to serve Memorial United Methodist Church. Next came Rowayton and the Rowayton UMC, then extension ministry as the Director of Greenwich Chaplaincy Services. I moved from the Rowayton parsonage into a townhouse in Stamford, a great little city where I still live, though I've moved to a house now. I needed to get into a place where I didn't have to climb stairs all day every day, and now I have room to entertain and have overnight guests. Though I love chaplaincy, I unexpectedly lost my medical insurance at the end of 2019, and began to look for a parish pastor position again. In April 2020--just as everything shut down for Covid!--I joined the staff at Mary Taylor Memorial UMC in Milford, CT. Thank God for the joy I had there, serving God and community on a great team, and for good medical and disability insurance!