If you take into account all that she experienced since June, Angela's physical recovery from the surgeries progresses very well. As the doctors expected, the transplant has atrophied considerably, especially since the onset of radiation therapy. The facial wound continues to close, and her skin has regenerated over most of the opening, to the extent that little or none of the transplant tissue is exposed completely. Complete healing and regeneration of the transplant and wound will require several more months.
Since August, Angela has had radiation treatments every weekday except Labor Day. Happily, the course of 33 scheduled radiation treatments is scheduled to end Thursday. Unless future scans indicate a need for a radiation therapy boost, she will complete radiation treatment then. Except for redness and dryness of the skin surrounding the transplant, radiation treatments have produced few, mild side effects.
Angela also began chemotherapy treatment in August. She has had 2 chemotherapy infusions, and is scheduled to begin a third on Monday, October 5. So far, the side effects of chemo, for which the doctors have combined very strong medicines to combat the aggressive and destructive cancer, have been harsh, but have been less severe than they could have. She spends most days resting and sleeping, a healthy response that promotes the fastest healing. Even when feeling her best, Angela is extremely tired, and nausea is a constant companion. Compounding illness, she has lost most of her appetite, sense of taste, and hair. Her lab results indicate that she has a very low white blood cell count, a marker of a compromised immune system, which makes her very susceptible to illness, and required to quarantine. So far, she has avoided unexpected illness, but if her WBC does not reach into an acceptable range for treatment, she will not undergo chemo infusion on Monday. It would be postponed until the following Monday. We will not know until she receives lab results on Monday.
Unless the doctors decide differently, she will undergo a total of 4 chemo infusions, with the fourth expected to begin 3 weeks after the third infusion begins. Lab results could also require its postponement. Unfortunately, the negative effects of chemotherapy, like the medicinal effects, accumulate and compound, rendering her health, treatment, and recovery increasingly unpredictable.
Angela misses her family, friends, and work, and she misses her independence. The guilt of not being with her grandchildren and job weigh upon her, as though she she has failed them. You might think that she has survived the worst of this, but I believe that she needs your kindness, thoughts, prayers, and deeds more than ever. Angela is courageous, resilient, and, with a few exceptions, positive through this experience. The best prognosis, however, the worst being unthinkable, is that she faces additional surgery and recovery throughout the first half of 2021.
Despite the trauma of the past and the anticipated challenges of the future, we have much for which to be thankful and many reasons to be hopeful. It will not suffice to repay you, but I will spend the remainder of my life thanking you for your kindness and generosity toward her. Through God's grace, you have helped keep her alive. Even so, I ask you to pray for her, love her, and contact her to help her through these next few weeks and months. Blessings and thanks to you all.