Jan 21, 2018 Latest post:
Apr 16, 2018
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.
Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues, Thank you for coming. If you know Mary personally, and are reading this, it is pretty likely that (a) Mary has put a smile on your face (if not a few belly laughs), (b) Mary has shown that she cares very much about you, (c) Mary has made you feel better about yourself and the world after spending time together, or (d) all of the above. For me, her husband, that answer has always been "d". For others, who maybe haven't met Mary, but are connected to our wider family and want to show your support---we are grateful you are here.
With your permission, we would like to use this space to keep folks apprised of what is happening with Mary's treatment journey. The support we have already received is overwhelming. It is important to us that each of you know how much we value you. Because you are here, you can be sure that you already have been a part of our lives--you are already part of Mary's life story. And, you don't have to do any more than this! You have already done important work by being connected to Mary.
I am writing this on January 21, 2018. Here's a quick update on where we are and where we think we are heading. Mary was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer on December 15, 2017. Mary was struggling mightily at school in November and December of this past year. The presenting pain was in the back, but moved around. She went to the chiropractor, a one hour massage, nightly hot baths, and topical solutions many nights. Nothing seemed to work. The pain was so severe in December, that she missed 7 days of school prior to her diagnosis (very unlike Mary). We had noticed, in early November, that Mary had a swollen lymph gland by her clavicle/neck. After conferring with Troy's mom on Thanksgiving Day, we agreed that we must go in immediately to get things checked out. We quickly scheduled a CT scan. The CT lab report was pretty daunting---the cancer was evident on the pancreas, throughout the lungs, and in the lymph system. There was also a mass near her spine, right where the nerves leave the spinal column to head towards the lower extremities. Then, this past week, Mary completed a three hour MRI under anesthesia to look at both her brain and spine. The results confirmed the spinal mass. The brain scan also revealed that she has a deposit in her meninges---that area that buffers the brain from the skull. This area is filled with cerebral-spinal fluid, meaning that the cancer could travel up and down the central nervous system.
The cancer is treatable, but likely not curable.
The treatment plan begins in earnest this coming week. Mary will go in on Tuesday (Jan. 23) to get fitted for her "mask" and get the radiation gun locked and loaded for 10 straight days of radiation treatment. Mary will be able to receive radiation treatment on the brain cancer and the spinal mass consecutively each day. They will zap the bad guys in the brain (just 3-5 minutes) first, then readjust...and take on the spine. Radiation of the brain is necessary before she can be given chemotherapy. Mary has significant weakness in her left leg, likely due to the spinal mass, so we want to target that area so she can maintain her mobility. Mary can walk and get around, but her balance is suspect, due to the weakness in the leg. This makes her a little anxious as she goes out and about.
After radiation therapy commences, we should be able to move right into chemotherapy. The purpose of chemotherapy is to (a) improve pain management, and (b) possibly impact longevity.
Okay, so that's the bad news. But, you know that Mary would not have us stay down for long! I will add updates on the medical side of the ledger, but I am guessing Mary will be adding "journals" and "images" that will remind us that we celebrate life each day.