“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.” -- Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
There have certainly been some dark clouds this last couple of weeks.
After a clear annual mammogram at the end of February, Lorene went in for her annual well woman exam in March, just three weeks later. During her breast exam, her doctor felt a lump. They immediately followed up with a biopsy, and on Wednesday, March 30th, the results came back: cancerous, and unfortunately, in just that short span of time, it had also spread to her lymph nodes.
On April 1, Lorene went to meet with her oncologist, who informed her that, in good news, the cancer was only at Stage 2, but in not-so-good news, on a scale of 1 to 3 on how aggressive - it's a 3 (most aggressive). Because of this, treatment will begin quickly, and attack with equal aggression. For now, that looks like five months of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and ongoing endocrine therapy. Chemo is set to begin within the next two weeks, after completion of several other rounds of scans and testing.
But it is true that there is always some light. Lorene has her wonderful Tim by her side every step of the way. Her son Braden is still here in Austin for the time being until he returns to New York, and she is thankful he will be nearby for a little while longer. Her son Aaron and his wonderful fiancee, Rachel, are here in Austin too, and planning their wedding; anticipating this important celebration brings Lorene such joy. She loves her new job at UT, and her colleagues have been incredibly supportive of Lorene as she faces this challenging moment.
Thankfully, too, Lorene had been seeing a hematologist/oncologist for the last few years for an unrelated and routine health issue. Already having a great relationship with her doctor has made this difficult news and the prospect of a pretty taxing treatment regimen just a little less scary. Lorene also has a dear friend who has been fighting cancer for some years, and she has provided such incredible support and mentorship through these first hard days. And Lorene has received amazing help with treatment resources from a mom from BW days who is a PA here in oncology in Austin (Bryker Woods really is forever!).
And it is YOU who are also providing the light behind the clouds for Lorene right now. The outpouring of love and support from family and friends has been unbelievable. Your offers of help, your words of encouragement, your promises of food and errand-running and listening ears... she needs and appreciates all of it. This is going to be a journey for Lorene and her family; thank you for being on the path with them. [Champagne toast upon completion of that path - date TBA!]
This CaringBridge site is where Lorene and Tim will be able to share updates along the way over these next several months, ask for help when they need it, and, most importantly, bask in the warmth of your well wishes. Lorene has said that, if at all possible, she would prefer to communicate all things cancer-related here, leaving her email inbox and social media accounts for connecting with you about everything else. And for those of us with kiddos who were students of Lorene, she wants you to feel free to share this information with them if you are so inclined, in whatever way is age-appropriate and meaningful in your own family. Check back regularly to follow her progress; the "ways to help" page is where she may in future take you up on those offers of dinners and errand-running. A meal train may follow during intense periods of chemo, but she and Tim are all set on food and help for now. And for the time being, this site is being managed for Lorene by the Sumpter-Gonzalez family (it's the least we can do since we've been friends ever since Lorene helped us raise our four kids at Bryker Woods and beyond! Feel free to contact Corinne Sumpter directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need anything).
Connection is exactly what Lorene needs right now. Though the last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming, she wants to hear from you and connect with you here. Please share this page with others you know who care as much about Lorene as we all do, and hop on the "well wishes" page to send your messages of love and support. Lorene hopes to see you and talk with you very soon.