While in San Felipe with friends and family for Mel Vaccaro’s celebration of life on October 28th, Nancy became very ill with excruciating headaches and stomach pain. Although she had been suffering from headaches for a few months while caring for her dad and mom in Manhattan Beach, they didn’t seem abnormal given the difficulty of the circumstances at home with mom and dad. On Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, Nancy drove herself across the border to the ER at Sharps Memorial in San Diego where she was admitted for testing. The next day she was joined there by Betty, Cindy, Kip, Rose and John and the 3 dogs!
The tests, scans and biopsies showed esophageal cancer of the adenocarcinoma type located where the esophagus and stomach join together. Unfortunately, it has metastasized to other lymph nodes and Nancy began aggressive chemotherapy on Tuesday, November 29th through Sharps medical group. On Friday, Dec. 1st, she went to UCSD for a second opinion. That oncologist, a specialist in esophageal cancer, agreed that the course of therapy Sharp's has recommended is good. He also recommended that additional "foundational" testing be done to learn if there is a specific mutation that could be targeted by specific drugs. UCSD often has clinical trials that might benefit her although there are no applicable trials for her at this time.
At this time, Nancy is at home battling the horrendous effects of the aggressive chemo. She has a pump that she wears in a pack that infuses the drugs on an hourly basis. She is sick and weak and is not able to answer calls, texts or emails, so don't be offended if your communications are not answered. She asks that you use this site to send notes to her.
If you are receiving this Caring Bridge notice, Nancy specifically wanted you to know. Many of you have not talked with her for awhile and she put together a summary of her year so that you know what has been happening in her life. She didn't want you to feel blindsided....no more than she has been and that is a true statement!! This hit her like a freight train.
As Nancy’s treatment will be in San Diego, and her family is in Manhattan Beach, the Bay Area and Bend, Oregon, logistics are becoming very difficult and expensive for housing for the family visiting . Ideas for low-cost temporary housing options are very much appreciated!!
Here is Nancy's overview of her recent past:
This is Nancy and it has possibly been a while since we spoke or corresponded last. For many of you, it may have been sometime around the “DECEMBER 20, 2014” — “This Chick’s READY to RETIRE!” date….the date of my joyous, delicious and long-awaited party…. What a perfect party event that was for me….surrounded by people I love and care for so much…and a GREAT closure to 36 years in education (sorta!).
As things went….here’s a quick summary of catch-up events:
January, 2015: Upon retirement, enjoyed two quick trips to Florida and Arizona
February, 2015: Started part-time work as a special education administrator from home.
May, 2015: Decided to downsize and move to save on rent expenses
August, 2015: Move to first place did not work out….
January, 2016: Move to second place, YES…a perfect fit.
March, 2016: My Dad, Mel’s, cancer came back with a vengeance. It broke though the medication barrier and moved to other parts of his body (controlled for the past 13 years).
March–June, 2016: Full-time time care now needed for both parents so sister Cindy and I took over daily living care for both parents…. did I mention Dr. appts?
June, 2016: Mel came home from last hospital stay for medical treatment under HOSPICE care. All of his grandkids and many kids got to see him in his hospital bed throne set up in the living room during that time.
July, 2016: Our forever kind, sweet Dad, Grandpa and Husband passed on July 26, 2016, surrounded by loved ones in the comfort of his home.
August– October, 2016—Cindy and I made a joint effort to keep Mom (Bets) in Manhattan Beach….her home for so many years. Also made plans for MEL’s LIFE CELEBRATION in San Felipe for October, 2016 (when the weather would not be so hot!)
October 28, 2016: Wonderful gathering at our trailer ion the beach in San Felipe for my DAD. His ashes were carried out to sea in a beautiful flower wreath. We were blessed to have many of our family and friends with us for that celebration
October, 2016 (more): BUT, in San Felipe, suddenly I wasn’t feeling well at all. It reached a level of ME needing to leave early and drive straight to the Emergency Room at Sharp Memorial Hospital. After a couple of days of many thorough tests, they sent me home with a diagnosis of ESOPHAGEAL cancer (WHAT?) of the adenocarcinoma variety. I have had very few, if any, of the profile back ground or symptoms…I just have it….bing….with no good explanation. As a bonus, some intense abdominal and lower back pain and nausea. Also the C has enlarged the lymp nodes in the abdomen and lower back areas….again, tooooo fun.
November 2016: I’ve had so much loving support from my family and friends throughout this ordeal. My appreciation cannot be put into words. There was a lot of waiting for test results and second opinions. The cancer infusion treatments have begun this week (November 29) and there will be more updates to follow.
If you are still reading this (not snoozing)! I thank you for your time and interest! You are all so very special to me and I hope this blog will be a good way for us to stay connected during this health challenge.