Gayle’s Story

Site created on March 7, 2018

As many of you know, Gayle has been in Monterey Community Hospital since Monday of last week - 2/26. Since last October, she has been dealing with a sarcoma that has metastasized to her lungs. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of treatment options for this particular type of cancer. She has been on a regimen taken in a pill form that the doctors were hopeful might shrink the tumors, but a recent scan found that the tumors had grown significantly. At the same time, Gayle started having shortness of breath and when she was admitted to the hospital, doctors also found a pulmonary embolism as well as fluid surrounding her lungs. She was given a blood thinner that effectively dealt the embolism and has had a surgery to try to negate the fluid. She also started chemotherapy this last Monday. She's had numerous ups and downs but has been unfailingly cheerful and funny; the same old Gayle. The outpouring of love and support and offers to help has been tremendous... Gayle is truly much loved in this community. Jess and I thought it might be easiest to use this website to help organize the offers for help, and so that Jess and hopefully Gayle herself can provide regular updates to everyone. I'll be attempting to implement the calendar so that you can sign up for dinner deliveries for Pete (we can't forget about Pete!) and when Gayle comes home, for both of them, as well as for other ways we can support them. We are open to suggestions... contributions towards house cleanings, help with the horses, help in the yard, etc.  Other ideas?  I'll let Jess jump in with additional information, but we both wanted to thank you for the prayers, good vibes, friendship and love you have been sending to Gayle. She's definitely got the biggest fan club in Carmel Valley and beyond!  Cancer journey's are so unwanted, but we appreciate you helping her to fight this and for making her road just a little easier. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Barb Ward Smith

Hi all! Had the opportunity to be with Gayle for chemo #4 last week, and, also hung out for a couple days, so... thought I'd journal an update. 

A CT scan was done the week of 4/9, and the results are encouraging. The tumors have not grown!! There wasn't an indication of shrinkage (yet??), but, at Gayle's appointment with Dr. Koontz on 4/16, he was excited that her lung sounds were MUCH better. And... in his words, "there's more room for air in there!"  If there is some good news to be had, this would be it!!!  We'll take it!

Gayle has been able to ditch the lung drain, and has a new port for treatment access.  The soreness from the drain site, and, now, the port install, and the horrid itch she had from allergies to some meds, have improved, and she is healing.  She is grateful for that, indeed. Her breathing has improved along with the all round healing. She still says "ouch" with needle sticks to access the port for treatment, but realizes the importance of long term, good quality, easy to live with, access methods... and will learn to love that port, as chemo cycles continue.

As anticipated with Gayle's chemo cycles (every two weeks), chemo day, and the day after chemo, and the second week... after chemo, are usually really good. Feeling better, with some energy! Days three and four, and probably five, can be really tough, as steroid pre meds from chemo day wear off, and chemo side effects kick in.  Gayle has been fitted with a Neulasta Onpro after each chemo treatment.  It is an amazing little gizmo that injects a white blood cell booster, 27 hours after chemo. This is vital in helping Gayle stay on schedule with chemo cycles, and that will be extremely important for this battle in the months to come. Even the  Neulasta is not without side effects, and she finds herself mucky through those as well.  She is getting iron infusions mid cycle to build her red cells. Cancer treatment is a real roller coaster, for sure. Kill the cancer, without slamming the whole patient to bits!! Good days, and not good days, and REALLY not good days!!  Those that have traveled this road are encouraging Gayle to find the balance that works best for her, and to learn when she needs to STOP, rest and regroup, saying "No, I better not", no matter WHAT is going on with her tribe.  Being the force of nature that she is, this has proven to be a strange, frustrating and difficult new reality.  She is figuring it out, day by day. 

Many, many thanks to all for bringing food and helping with day to day support.  Please be sure to label (your name and what the food is...) and date the fabulous goodies that are going to Gayle and Pete's frig.  That would be a big help. And... please double check before you come to visit, so that your generous and thoughtful  "time with Gayle" isn't met with Gayle not being home.  Chemos, doctor appointments, and such, may be subject to change, and, inadvertently, are not getting changed on the website calendar. It is a big challenge trying to keeping up with it all. (Thank you Andrea!!)   So far, chemos have been on Mondays.  Also, it would be awesome for someone to be checking on our girl on those tough days of her cycles, when no one is staying with her during the daytime. She may not be able to visit because she doesn't feel good, and says she doesn't need a babysitter... but still needs to be looked after, all the same.  Bring a book to read, or a movie on your device, or contribute to the house keeping effort, while she is resting.  It ALL helps!!!  Again, thank you!!

Here's to the good fight... and for "more room for air" in those beautiful lungs!!! Bless you all!!   Barb 



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