In February of 2019, Katie's, mine (her husband Matthew), our son's, and our families lives changed forever, when progressively worsening and constant headaches turned into an MRI scan that we all thought would be nothing, then into the diagnosis of a racquetball sized tumor which ended up being Grade 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). The most aggressive and worst type of brain cancer which shares with it a terminal diagnosis.
Although the diagnosis is terminal, Katie's determination, strength, and will to not only survive, but truly "live" her life everyday, has shown all of us that know here and other that don't, how to live our lives everyday and to not give up! Rather to live in the moment, cherish each second, be kind, and make memories. #makingmemories has become our family motto.
Shortly after her initial MRI, on March 1, 2019 brain surgery was performed to remove the newly found tumor/mass. This was done to not only slow the growth, but to provide relief to the swelling inside her brain which was causing the debilitating headaches. The surgery went extremely well due to the location of the tumor, which was located on the outside edge of the left parietal lobe. Approximately 95% of the mass was removed. Katie did suffer a side effect of vision loss, which was called a "field cut", as she no longer can see a portion of the bottom right quadrant of her vision field.
After Surgery and the needed recovery, she began radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy. She has been fortunate enough to date to be able to take her chemotherapy orally, which saves constant trips to the hospital for injections and she can take it at home. She initially began on a high-dose chemo which was taking in a 5 day on, 23 day off routine, with MRI's scans and doctor's visits after two cycles, which was every 8 weeks. Things started off well, the chemo and radiation seemed to be doing it's thing and the scans were coming back essentially unchanged. There was/is still an area of concern that was being monitored, but it was not changing drastically, and the goal of the treatments is to keep things the same for as long as possible, and keep her alive, until modern medicine research can fully catch up and help kill "all" of the bad cells.
Then, her weekly monitored blood work number started to drop to very low levels. It was determined her bone marrow was struggling with the high dosage of chemo that she was taking. After this, she then went to a 5 day on, 9 day off routine, of a lower dose chemo which equated to approximately 7/8 of what she had been taking before. Still substantial, but unfortunately more often which means she has to battle the side effects more often. Her blood numbers slowly came back up to within acceptable enough levels and the treatments and scans continued and things were going relatively well considering the circumstances.
And then the inevitable occurred, at a routine MRI this past January 7, 2020, the neuro-oncologist showed us that there was a new larger spot, which may just be scaring from radiation, or new cancer growth. It isn't fully know, but she was given a 3 in 4 chance it was new noticeable cancer. This was a swift kick to the gut and not the way we had all hoped to start the new year after month's of relatively stable scans. The doctors then started to watch her more closely with more frequent MRI scans and the discussion of surgery once again began.
On January 28, 2020, Katie complained to me before bed of a vision issues at home and not being able to grab things, and shortly after that she lost her ability make decisions, process information, and the ability to say who she was, who i was, or any type of normal conversation or discussion. She then suffered what was called a Clonic seizure in the emergency room roughly 45 minutes after she first let me know of the vision issue. Luckily i was able to get her to the hospital prior to the seizure because i had no idea was was going on, or what was shortly going to occur. She was admitted, pumped full of anti-seizure medications, and released the following day.
Then on February 12th, during a regularly scheduled MRI, we were shown that the "area of concern" was growing much more drastically and the suggestion was surgery, as it was/is still a possibility. The seizure the weeks prior was most likely due to the new growth of the cancer. We quickly met with the neuro-surgeon an he agreed it was the next appropriate step. Side affects from this surgery will most likely include additional vision loss. There is also other normal surgical complication risks as well as motor function loss potential, but we are hoping for the best, which would be isolated to vision given the location of the new tumor/cancer cells.
So that been the last year. 2019 was tough, and tomorrow on February 21, 2020 Katie will go back into surgery again, and sadly start this process somewhat all over. We have all been lucky that Katie has still been with us this last year while she fights and we are hoping for many more years to come.
Katie has asked that this CaringBridge site be created to help inform everyone of what is going on this time around in addition to her blog (katiejokeenan.wixsite.com) that she has been keeping to track her thoughts throughout this process this past year, which you may be following.
More to follow after surgery.
Thanks to everyone for your previous and ongoing support for Katie's fight against brain cancer. We can never thank you enough.