Skip to main content

A welcome gift to start 2015: A New Hope

Christmas is done and we're in 2015 now. And guess what? Everyone's still here.

A year ago, we celebrated Christmas feeling like it could be Amanda's last. The prognosis from the docs in Halifax was not good, and suggested she could very well be dead in a year. We didn't realize it at the time, but her ovarian cancer was still around and still growing.

Now we're in London. The docs here figured out that her cancer was not a fast-moving, high-grade, chemo-resistant strain, but a slower-growing low-grade kind. It would scoff at platinum-based treatment, but their testing found it was feeding on estrogen.

That revelation led to a new line of therapy: the estrogen-blocking Letrozole. Side effects, yes, but not as severe as what Amanda had from the aggressive chemotherapy or the experimental stuff.

And to our astonishment, on the first scan after starting Letrozole, the doctors revealed that her remaining measurable tumours had shrunk.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, in the lead-up to Christmas, we went back to get the results of the next quarterly scan.

Guess what? They shrunk again.

Amanda and Gordon on Christmas morning.

All the measurable tumours shrunk at least a little. Some by a significant percentage in at least one dimension, others just a tiny bit. Technically, I think they'd classify it as "stable" but even THAT is good news.

Granted, these are the measurable ones -- there are specks of cancer throughout her abdominal cavity, some in places that we worry will be a big problem eventually ..... but that's now feeling like EVENTUALLY.

Each time the scan comes back as stable or improved, it feels like gaining compound interest on life. It's not just another three months without a crisis -- it feels like there could be multiples of that time added to her life.

Most people we've told have been very emotional in their reaction. We've been surprisingly calm about the whole thing. Maybe we've been hardened by all the difficulty. Maybe we're too cautious to get our hopes up.

But I can see a new hope in Amanda. I know she's reluctant to get her hopes up, but I see her buying into the idea that she's going to be around longer than she thought.

Life's still not easy. Between "chemo brain," "mommy brain," "menopause brain" and whatever "brain" comes from the meds she's on now, she's been experiencing what one could politely call cognitive challenges. Math is hard. Forming mental images of physical tasks to be done is pretty much impossible. Even following recipes or preparing to go out for an errand can overwhelm her. She's always been so, so smart and clever and obsessively organized. To be unable to follow a shopping list, hang a picture or keep her keys in a reliable place is devastating.

As Amanda tries to cope with her diminished smartitude, we're watching Gordon's climb. He still seems like he's on the verge of full-on talking. He's been attending daycare part-time and is slowly getting used to it. He's one of the youngest kids there but looks older than nearly all of them. The kid's going to be helping me troubleshoot computers soon, I'm sure.
Gordon on Christmas Eve at an nearby house that was decorated to the extreme.

He enjoyed Christmas. I don't think he fully understood Santa, but he was able to recognize 'Tanta!' and got totally on board with opening presents. It was a lot of fun. He loved the lights, the music, and seeing family.

I don't know what 2015 has in store for us. We know 2014 pushed us to the limits. The cancer, the house, the baby, the move, the new job, the interpersonal strains, the money worries, the fear and uncertainty and doubt. We're hopeful that it will be better.

Lots of love to our friends and family near and far. We want to see you soon. Let's have fun this year!


  1. I am amazed and humbled by both of you. I understand the emotional stress, the money stress, the wondering ... I do because Ron's still on chemo til March but, when I read your posts I can see the determination peeking through it all. You guys (all 3 of you) ... just hang onto each other. It's what makes surviving this worth the effort.

    I'm praying 2015 will be a healthier, happier year for all of you.

    Amanda ... I know it's tough. But you're awesome, and beautiful, best of all, you've got moxie.

    Happy New Year guys.

    Gordon is just about the cutest little guy ever.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Gordon turns four and has questions

Gordon wanted to know where mommy went.

Not what happened to her body, but where SHE went.

We celebrated his fourth birthday this weekend with three gatherings. One at our house with his little friends. One at nana and grampa's house. One in Stratford with the Simpson clan.

The big party for the kids was a success. I'd never planned such an event. Thank goodness for the Internet, where I found a Martha Stewart article that laid out the basics. And thank goodness for Party City, which had a ton of Transformers party stuff ready to buy. I wasn't feeling well, but managed to pull it off. Thanks to sister Shannon and SIL Amy for being the Designated Adults who helped in wrangling and last-minute logistics. G thought the whole event was kind of loud, but he really enjoyed it. And I feel like a winner for making it happen -- some of the other parents even chimed in that they now know what goes into a kid's party, since they were as clueless as me! Great!

Great time at nana&#…

Things get much worse as tumours spread fast

Things crawl in the darkness
That imagination spins
Needles at your nerve ends
Crawl like spiders on your skin

Pounding in your temples
And a surge of adrenaline
Every muscle tense —
To fence
The enemy within - Rush, "The Enemy Within"
We don't know how or why, if there is a how or a why, but Amanda's cancer has woken up and is on the move, double-time. Things have become much worse in the time since the last update.

At that point, the docs had found a couple of spots on her ribs that were causing her pain. They zapped it with radiation to give her some relief.

Since then, things have progressed quickly.

Just after the hospital stay when they were trying to get Amanda's pain under control, docs found more bone metastases in her sacrum (large, triangular bone at the base of the spine) and iliac crest (the big wing-like bone on the pelvis where they harvest bone marrow). More radiation. This time, the radiation hasn't knocked the pain down.
Then she had headac…

The sweet smell of success (the opposite of that)

Let me lock in the system at warp 2 Push it into systematic overdrive - U know what 2 do - Ween, "Poop Ship Destroyer"
Pardon the juvenile humour off the top, but this journey has been so unreal that I can't help but fall back on laughing in the absence of appropriate things to say.

Amanda's headed for another big surgery this week.

Quick recap of how we got here: She went into hospital in late January to have her ovarian cancer tumours taken out. That surgery ended up taking a foot-long chunk of her colon, so they spliced what was left to her nature-given outlet. Well, that blew apart and she went for emergency colostomy surgery. THAT didn't work, either, as illustrated by our guiding light with the scalpel hand and the silver tongue, Dr. Sugimoto:

The business end of the remaining colon sloughed its way back into her insides and strictured itself off, creating a cul-de-sac with no escape for poop nor gas. They put her on TPN (full nutrition by IV) but let her …