Rene’s Story

Site created on January 7, 2018

Welcome to our CaringBridge page!  Thanks for visiting.  We hope to share with you all of her progress, updates, etc. on this page so that she can focus her energy on relaxing throughout treatment.

As most of you know, my Mom went in to BMC the Tuesday before Thanksgiving for a routine CT scan of her chest.  The results came back abnormal.  They saw a large mass in the right lower lobe of her lungs.  Following the abnormal CT scan, she went through a series of tests that would take several weeks.  Nothing like getting bad news around the holidays when scheduling is hard and no one is working!  She had a full body PET scan which would show two abnormal areas that are using more sugar than a normal functioning part of the body; one in the lung, and one in her left adrenal gland. 

After the PET scan, we met with a team of pulmonologists at BMC to get a recommendation for what they thought would be the proper next steps, and they suggested an adrenal biopsy first to see if the mass that lit up on the PET scan was related to the lung mass.

Following the BMC meeting, we decided to get an opinion from a thoracic surgeon at MGH.  This Dr. and the team at MGH reviewed all of my Mom's records and decided that the mass on her left adrenal gland was present on a CT scan in 2013 and seemed to be unchanged, and therefore they suggested foregoing the adrenal biopsy and heading straight for the lung biopsy.

Lung biopsy at MGH: Small Cell Lung Cancer

Mom chose an oncologist that was referred to us by my cousin Emily.  He was (of course) going on vacation the day after her biopsy results came back and didn't want to keep her waiting even longer than she had already been.  He gave her an informal call to tell her the diagnosis and what he thought would be the plan.  He figured she would do hardcore radiation 5 days a week for 4 weeks with intermittent chemo cycles.  What he didn't have at the time of their phone conversation was the entire team next to him telling him exactly what needed to be done.

Meeting with a different oncologist to devise a definite plan of action to CRUSH THIS THING.

This meeting brought new news.  They told us that she has a mass on her RIGHT adrenal gland and could change the course of action.  The radiologists looking at the tests, scans, etc. decided that the best plan for mom would be to start strong chemo.

This is the current plan.

4-6 rounds of chemotherapy ... 4 rounds if the adrenal tumors do not shrink (meaning they are not linked to her lung cancer and unresponsive to chemotherapy) ... and 6 rounds if the adrenal tumors do shrink in response to the chemotherapy.

Somewhere between rounds 2 and 3 of chemo, she will have an MRI to determine if/how much all of her tumors are shrinking, and the plan will further formulate from there. 

Post chemo, she will have intense radiation.  5 days/week.  How many weeks we are unsure of yet.  She is a healthy woman, so they are going to hit her hard. 

Chemo Rounds:

Day 1: Bloodwork and labs, heavy hydration and electrolyte replacement, and two types of chemotherapy. 8 hour day.

Days 2 & 3: 1 hour infusion of chemotherapy

My goal for this website is to keep everyone updated with my journal entries.  Let you know how she is feeling, what's going on, when plans change, etc. so that you guys don't have to rely on her to tell you everything. 

We SO appreciate the love, support, prayers, concern, and everything that everyone is giving.  KEEP IT COMING!  I just want to give her a break from explaining everything to everyone because to be honest and it is NOTHING against anyone, it gets exhausting, its hard to keep up with it, and this is just such a simpler way to keep everyone in the loop.  This is not to say she doesn't want to hear from anyone.  She still loves hearing from people, she just doesn't want to explain the medical/updated process any longer, and I don't blame her.

Help her fight! #RENESTRONG

Newest Update

Journal entry by Rene Oneil

Its been a long time, life takes over and this site gets neglected.  Despite me finally finding the courage to actually ask my Oncologist what stage my cancer is and hearing Stage 4 Metastatic Terminal lung cancer is never a good day.  But I choose to “live with cancer”, as opposed to “dying of cancer”.  The reality is harsh, yet I’m oddly at total peace with it. I’d be lying if I said I’m not scared, Of course I am.  What scares me most is the thought of leaving my loved ones, Shelly, my sister Sheila, brother Jimmy, Phil, and all my extended family & friends. Right is good! Every single day is such a blessing.  I am so blessed to have walked my daughter down the isle to marry her best friend on St Patrick’s Day ☘️.   God is Good, I felt great, I felt lucky , I had hair,  I felt (and feel) immense gratitude I never felt before my diagnosis.  It sounds crazy, but Cancer has strengthened me and gave me a whole new appreciation for every day.  March 17 was the happiest day of my life.   It was a beautiful day and am so happy for Shelly & Austin. I couldn’t ask for a better son in law than Austin. I know he will always take care of her and that puts me at ease. 
Back to reality is always rough after a wedding.  Returning to MGH, being smacked in the face with the reality of 2 more small tumors on my spine, which explains the back pain. More radiation is needed to alleviate my pain. I hate radiation , I hate it all, but this is what God has given me so I’m up for the challenge ! Bring it on 👊🏻 I have 3 more vaccines in the clinical trial.  My body could not handle the Keytruda (Pembro) , it kicked my ass. So no more of that, the side effects were too much. Right now I’m feeling pretty good and for that I am truly grateful. 
New scans are coming up next week. Scanxiety is real.  Praying for no new tumors or growth. Just felt the need to update this site and thank all those who are there for me and have my back.  
I will not let cancer define me, and I will continue to fight my ass off and live my life to the fullest. 
This life is a gift, I urge you not to waste it on trivial matters, or dwell about those who have proven they don’t deserve a place in your life. Rough realization , but a necessary one. Took me a while to grasp that one , but I have and am happier for it.
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