Gordon and Virginia’s Story

Site created on October 30, 2020

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As you probably know, both Gordon and Virginia have been dealing with multiple health issues, which have gotten more serious in the past year. Late last year (in 2019), Gordon's lymphoma, which had been in remission for about 20 years, returned and his pleural cavity started filling with fluid. He spent a couple of weeks in the hospital over the Christmas holiday, and when he was released, Freyja and Brittany learned how to drain this fluid several times a week.  Gordon began an 8-treatment session of chemotherapy in the spring, and the amount of fluid was reduced over time until the doctors were able to remove the drain. More chemo followed until late September when he developed neuropathy in his hands and feet. His oncologist decided that continued chemo would worsen the condition and subsequently stopped the sessions at that point. A recent PET scan has revealed that the cancer has now spread to both lungs and is rather aggressive. After weighing some uncomfortable options for further intensive and very likely risky therapies, Gordon, in discussions with his doctors and family, has decided that the best plan of action is to let nature take its course. He is now officially in hospice which is providing home care and assistance.

Virginia was diagnosed with congestive heart failure several years ago and also suffers a great deal with arthritis pain in her shoulders and knees. The severe edema in her legs, which became very swollen, caused some serious cellulitis to develop along with some deep wounds in the skin of both legs. Because of the severity and pain, she spent some time in the hospital this past spring too, and she was put on some heavy diuretics and antibiotics in an attempt to reduce the amount of fluid in her legs. In the months following, with the help of several home care nurses and physical therapists, her leg issues have started to improve and both the cellulitis and the wounds are healing. Unfortunately, this isn't the end of Gin's medical story. Sometime in September, she noticed a couple of lumps in her breasts, so her doctor ordered a diagnostic mammogram which then led to biopsies of both breasts. She has subsequently been formally diagnosed with breast cancer on the left side, and is currently working with her team of doctors to determine the best course of action to take. 

Gordon and Gin are still living in their own condo in Sycamore, and Gordon continues to cook meals (with the help of Meals on Wheels three times a week) and do basic clean up of the kitchen. However, the time has come for them to make a change, and in the next few weeks they will now be moving in with Freyja and Rick, which is like coming back home again. It will be an adjustment for everyone, but will hopefully be helpful for all.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Freyja Rasmussen-Johns

Just checking in to let you know that Gin and Gordon have managed to start the new year without any major setbacks. New Year's Eve was relatively quiet.  In the afternoon, Brittany and Nick brought us a most delightful NYE dessert -- strawberry rose mini-cakes -- and a lovely surprise, which I will share at a later time. Later on, our friend Jo Schulz stopped by with a gift for Gordon because he's always cold -- you can see him modeling the "Huggle" in the picture above, which is supposed to be "one size fits all," and the hood is supposed to drape around his head, kind of like a monk's hood. Now Gordon does happen to have a rather large head (I mean that literally, not figuratively in this case), but this hood is definitely not draping -- he could barely fit it around his face! Jo was so unhappy about the fit that she is insisting on returning the Huggle despite Gordon's insistence that he could refashion the neckline to fit him. There was quite a lengthy discussion around the dinner table about the Huggle tonight!

Gin and I had a rather frank talk this evening about whether or not she should be taking her breast cancer medication, which, as I may have mentioned before, is an estrogen blocker and it causes some difficult menopausal-like side effects such as mood swings and hot flashes and weakness. Since she came home from the hospital, she has not been taking this medication, and she has really been feeling much better, sharper, stronger and quite a bit more "with it." However, she feels like the tumor may be increasing in size. And so, we talked at some length about quality vs. quantity of life, and that this needs to be her decision as to whether to restart the medication, or to just let nature take its course. I don't believe she has made a final decision, but these are some of the uncomfortable choices we have to deal with at this stage of life. I am, however, very glad that we are able to discuss these kinds of issues openly together.

I know that both G&G worry about making extra work for me and for Rick, and there are definitely times when things get tense and daily life seems difficult. But for the most part, they both remain in pretty good spirits and we usually manage to work out the kinks without too much trouble. It definitely helps that we are surrounded by a loving, supportive family and many wonderful friends (I may have mentioned this once or twice in the past!). Jo came over again to visit this afternoon (which really brightened my spirits), and ended up staying for dinner which was kindly supplied by Annette and Jerry Johns -- lasagna, salad, bread, wine. Yum! And nobody had to cook tonight -- yay! Many a satisfied thanks from all of us to Annette and Jerry!

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