Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
As you know, Mary Louise was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer, in July, 2016. We immediately visited Dr David Sugarbaker, the leading mesothelioma surgeon, in Houston for a surgical consult. He prescribed chemotherapy to allow time for Mary Louise's nutrition values to improve and to attempt to reduce the size of the tumor. We have also conferred with Dr. Hedy Kindler, the leading medical oncologist in mesothelioma, at the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, the nutrition values did not reach appropriate levels. Consequently, Dr. Sugarbaker has refused to do surgery.
Since then, our local oncologist prescribed a second level chemotherapy as the first chemo had stopped working. We have been searching for and evaluating alternative treatments, including immunotherapies and clinical trials, to battle the disease.
In mid February, Mary Louise was hospitalized for difficulty breathing caused by a pneumothorax. The doctors inserted a chest tube to allow air, which was building up in her chest cavity, to escape. Attached to the chest tube was a Pneumostat, which is a one way air valve that allows air to continue to escape from the chest cavity. That device along with her pleural catheter required daily draining of fluids caused by the cancer.
We spent the last week of February and first week of March at Mayo Clinic where Mary Louise was evaluated by a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, and a surgeon. The radiation oncologist has advised against radiation therapy. The surgeon performed a thoracoscopy and left lung decortication during which he attempted to reinflate the left lung to make breathing easier for Mary Louise. The surgeon was able to reinflate the top half of the lung but the bottom half was non responsive as the lung has been damaged by the cancer. During surgery, two chest tubes were inserted into her chest to allow drainage of air and fluids and to assist the lung to remain inflated. We were released after nine days in the hospital. All chest tubes have been removed except for the original pleural catheter and, thus far, the top portion of the lung remains inflated. Mary Louise continues to improve though she feels week and the nurses are draining fluid from the catheter twice a day.
Per the advice of the medical oncologist at Mayo, we will soon start treatment with an immunotherapy drug called Keytruda. The immunotherapies, like Keytruda, attempt to invigorate the body's immune system enabling it to fight the cancer. [As compared to the Chemotherapy drugs which directly attack the cancer cells.] This drug has had dramatic success in some patients and we pray for a positive outcome.
We are overwhelmed by your continuing prayers and support as we continue this most difficult journey. Please know that we love and appreciate you. As for me, I spend every day with with my best friend, the most beautiful person in the world. Hold those you love close, and enjoy and appreciate what you have while you have it.