David and I started seeing a chiropractor shortly after moving to Bend. We went every 4 weeks to keep our lower backs happy given all the hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, river floating, and golf we just couldn't get enough of. Then, on July 1st at a routine chiropractor visit, things took a sudden, sharp turn. At that appointment the chiropractor made an adjustment to my right shoulder. It was a little achy for a few seconds, then it felt fine again. But 2 or 3 days later I started feeling muscle pain in my right upper back, between spine and shoulder blade. I have been active and asked a lot of my body over the decades, and am no stranger to muscle aches. So, I just took 2 Aleve in the morning, went to play 18 holes of golf or run errands or whatever, then came home to shower and slip into the hot tub. Aaaahhh, life is good in Bend. However at the end of July it was clear the pain was not getting better. I decided to involve the shoulder doc who did rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder at the end of February 2015.
Fast forward another month to September 6, 2016 at Lost Tracks Golf Course. The women's league there and the Central Oregon EWGA are the two wonderful groups of women I golf with. That was the last day I tee'd up a ball and swung a club. When I got home I contacted the rotator-cuff surgeon. He said he thought the surgery results were intact, but ordered a CT scan with contrast and an MRI just to be sure.
He said the MRI showed the surgery was holding up fine but there were a couple of "spots" on my spine that were disconcerting and he ordered another scan (P.E.T.) and prearranged an appointment with Dr. Robert Boone, oncologist at St. Charles' Heart & Lung Center here in Bend. Several red flags started popping up in my brain!
Fast forward to Thursday November 10 at the appointment with Dr. Boone, post P.E.T. Scan,. One of the spots on my spine was an abnormal tissue mass on the right side at the junction where rib #9 comes in. That rib is broken. It turns out the July 1st Chiropractor adjustment brought that broken rib to light but certainly did not cause it. The tissue mass was preventing the rib from healing, hence the increasing pain. Until then I was entirely asymptomatic of my cancer. Consider..., if it hadn't been for the Chiropractor's July 1st adjustment I probably would not be alive today, let alone able to fight this good fight.
The other spot on my spine (about 3 cm in size) was on the left side, actually in the upper lobe of my left lung. Hmm. Geez. Dr. Boone was very positive during the appointment and ordered multiple needle-directed biopsies, which were performed Wednesday November 16. Apparently there are a number of different types of lung cancer caused by e.g. smoking or by an infectious mass or genetics, and so on. Hence all those biopsy tissues were run through multiple tests to determine the type of cancer and therefore the treatment. At this point I had been considering all this news for 10 days and felt like a deer in the headlights. Dr. Boone was and is very positive and said "bones are easy to treat and clear but only when the type of cancer is known." He said he needed 2 things from me: 1) EAT, and 2) ENTHUSIASM. So I am eating to beat the band, and as for enthusiasm you know I am all over that - so nice NOT to have to rein it in! My next appointment was scheduled for November 21st, when we would go over the results of those tested biopsies, and then we would make a treatment plan. In the meantime I was given pain meds in the form of trans-dermal patches and tablets. Am also taking a mega-inflammation-fighter steroid. Still trying to dial in these meds to reach a pain-free existence because the oncologist insists I have to return to my former activity level and wants me back asap on the golf courses, snowshoe trails, x-country ski trails, indoor golf range, and so on. (With winter coming on kayaking and outdoor golf are on hold.)
At this point Dr. Boone believed we might bypass chemotherapy and radiation altogether and go immediately forward with Opdivo to do battle with the lung cancer. But again, life is what happens when you are making other plans. Just above "Vicki's Story" you can access my first Journal Entry, dated November 21st. It tells you that the results of those tested biopsies revealed I was about to do battle with pancreatic cancer.
From day one David has had my back 10,000%. He is taking care of me every minute of every day, doing all meals, all cleaning, applying the pain-med patches, monitoring other meds. He is my rock. I have become stronger and can do more now but he just does not stop. I had to insist he continue his Thursday morning breakfasts with a group of 8-10 guys (some of them husbands of the women I've met here and become friends with over the last 5 years:). He also plays golf with several of the guys, and they are all very supportive of him during all this.
Truly I would LOVED to have been able to sit down and chat with each of you about this but couldn't do so without poor-me weeping, which is entirely incompatible with ENTHUSIASM. This website seemed liked the next best thing. I hope you find it useful. Please return now and then when it is convenient for you to get an update on my status, news, addiitional photos and such. I promise to keep in touch!