Friday, January 2, 2015

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 comment:

  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.

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