Shirley Gaal

First post: 5/5/2017 Latest post: 9/20/2017
Welcome to Shirley's CaringBridge site! We've created it to keep friends and family updated along Shirley's road to recovery. We appreciate your support, prayers, and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most.

The first signs started in early March this year as an unannounced period. After conferring with my gyno, we thought it was hormonal and modified the dosage. This did not change the bleeding so rather than continue with hormone treatment, the decision was made to perform a hysteroscopy on April 10. The doctor expected to find a polyp, but instead found a quarter sized lesion on the vaginal wall. He removed the lesion and the pathology report came back later that week as a neuroendocrine tumor.

The following week, we had an appointment with an oncologist in Dallas and he referred us to MD Anderson in Houston. This was primarily due to the rarity of the cancer type. We expected to get an appointment in another week or so, but an appointment opened up and within hours we were on the road to Houston. Our first visit was with Dr. Levenback on April 19 who brought in Dr. Jhingran, the radiation oncologist. They ordered up more tests and over the next 2 weeks, I received MRI, PET and CAT scans, X-rays, blood draws and the biopsy slides were sent to MDA for an independent evaluation. I don't even want to tell you how many people have been up in my business - no more modesty. We met as a team on April 27 for a diagnosis. The bad news is that the pathology confirmed the initial diagnosis and the MRI showed that the cancer spread to the lymph nodes. The good news is that the PETscan showed that the cancer had not spread throughout the body and was isolated to the vaginal wall and lymph nodes in the pelvic area. What I like about these two doctors is their enthusiasm and optimism. At our first meeting, Dr. Levenback said what is rare elsewhere is common here. This is where I need to be.

So now the treatment plan starts on May 3. It will be a combination of daily radiation for 7 weeks and chemo for 3 days every 21 days. They say I would then get a month off before more chemo. That is how I plan to spend my summer.

Houston is about a 5 hour drive from our home in Southlake so we rented a corporate apartment for our planned time here. It gives us the flexibility to adapt to how I am feeling, allows us to bring the dogs, and even has a second bedroom for guests. This is a marathon and we are trying to be flexible not knowing what is coming.

That's the story. Appreciate all of the well wishes and prayers and all of the offers to help. We appreciate all of the love. Don't feel that you are ever bothering me by reaching out to me, I need the support. Will keep this updated so you follow my fight and eventual victory.

Shirley

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