Mary’s Story

Site created on July 7, 2020

Welcome to the Caring Bridge page for Mary Criswell. We will use this page to keep everyone current on her progress. Most updates will be coming from her 4 children - James Criswell (Ada), Thomas Criswell (Abilene, TX), Anne Escobedo (Ada), and Spencer Buchanan (Charlotte, NC).

As many of you know, Mary was diagnosed with Stage 3B Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Her specific type of NSCLC is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This is a good resource, if you would like to learn more: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/non-small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq

After returning home from a trip to Spartanburg in February, she came down with what we assume was the flu. She recovered after a week or so, but couldn’t get rid of the cough. Her Primary Care Physician, put her on different antibiotics, but when those didn’t clear it up, he sent her for an XRay. At the same time, COVID-19 had hit America, and everyone was moving into the Stay-At-Home Orders. When she was able to go in May for the XRay, they found what appeared to be cancerous masses in her lungs. Fast forward through a ton of other scans and a biopsy, and we finally received confirmation and learned the specific type of cancer and official stage. Fortunately, she has had no other symptoms aside from the occasional coughing spells, and feels completely fine.

Her nephew-in-law, Bill Jonas, is a top oncologist in Atlanta, and has been a wonderful resource for all of us during a very scary time. He has reviewed scans, explained reports, and answered all of our many questions (most of which came from her crazy twin daughters). With Bill’s assistance, she has found an excellent care team at Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City (Dr. Raid Aljumaily) and we are confident she is and will continue to receive the best care possible. https://stephensoncancercenter.org/About/Our-People/Our-Cancer-Experts/Provider-Profile/raid-aljumaily-md).

On July 13th, she will begin a 6 weeks treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. During that time, she will receive Chemotherapy once a week and radiation 5 days a week. The chemo cocktail will be a combination of Taxol and Carboplatin, which we are told, have mild side-effects. After she completes treatment, she will have a 3 week “break”, and then complete new scans to see what progress has been made. If the doctors are happy with her progress, she will move to Immunotherapy Infusions. She will receive those once a week on a bi-weekly basis for a year.

She is staying upbeat, and focusing on the positive. There are a few things she hasn’t been too thrilled about though. According to Mary, the 2 worst things so far have been:

1). That she has had to get up “so damn early” for these doctor’s appointments. They had the audacity to make her come for her first chemo at 7:30 am (she talked them out of 7 am).

2). That she will need to “buy a f-ing sweatshirt” for chemo. As you all know, a sweatshirt does not coordinate with anything in her wardrobe.

Newest Update

Journal entry by spencer Buchanan

We haven’t posted an update since early September...but that is bc there is not much news to share (thankfully)!  

Mom has completed two immunotherapy treatments so far, and has had no side effects - which means she most likely will not have any.  She’ll have scans every 3 months or so to monitor her current spots & watch out for any new growths.  Assuming her scans continue to be positive, she’ll continue receiving immunotherapy infusions at Stephenson Cancer Center once every two weeks for up to a year.

Thankfully, she is feeling so much better and has been able to eat  & drink again without pain.  Her energy levels increase each day and she’s back to sharing posts on Facebook of every missing child, pet, & senior citizen (regardless of how long ago they were found). 😍🤩😍

Please continue to pray that the immunotherapy is successful at keeping this nasty disease far away!  

We’ll update after her next scans!

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