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I love you Mommy, Part 5

It's been quite a while since my last update so anyone trying to keep track of my mother's fight with cancer through my blog is surely wondering what's happening. Things have kinda been less than stellar over the past month. As you know, her first Therasphere procedure went very well and it appeared to knock out the tumors in the right lobe of her liver where the procedure was targeted. On August 30th she had the second procedure to target the tumors in the left lobe of her liver. On September 26th she had CT and PET scans to see how well it worked and we got the results on September 28th. This is where the bad news comes in.

Instead of shrinking, the tumors in her left lobe actually got larger and the tumors in the right lobe were back already. On top of that, the PET scan showed new "hot spots" in other areas of her body. The "hot spots" don't necessarily mean cancer has actually started in these places, but it is a sign that the cancer is definitely trying to spread. The plan now is to put my mother on a fairly aggressive treatment of chemo to knock out the hot spots and hopefully make a dent on the tumors in her liver. By aggressive I mean that this round of chemo is really going to kick her ass and her hair is very likely going to fall out.

On top of all this my mother developed a hernia from the major surgeries to her abdomen (colon and liver resections) and it had really started to bother her. The doctors decided it was best to have surgery on the hernia now, because it was only going to get worse and it would be impossible to do later while she was undergoing chemo treatments. Chemo attacks new cell growth, so it's counter-productive if you are trying to heal from surgery. So the plan was to get the hernia surgery out of the way as quickly as possible so we can start chemo once she's had time to recover. From here I'll let my dad take over as he recaps it best.

Dear Friends & Family:

I don't think I have sent an email lately with the latest news. Natalie had hernia surgery on Friday, 10/6, at Northwestern. Fortunately, it was laproscopic. Thus, chemo will start probably in 2 - 3 weeks since the cancer is growing again in both lobes of the liver and there are some new spots showing up on a pet scan. The hernia itself was 10 centimeters in diameter and almost a perfect circle. That is fairly close to 4 inches and it is no wonder her stomach had been really bothering her for the last 5 weeks. She just didn't let on how much it really did hurt. As soon as she was awake after surgery she said the stomach pain was gone. We obviously have a whole lot of respect for Dr. Eric Hungness.

The concern was that if the surgeon had to do an "open" hernia surgery chemo could not start until early to mid December. This was not what we wanted. Thus, chemo should start within a couple of weeks.

There was some concern that the surgery could not be done until 10/20. However, the MAN upstairs smiled on us and there was a last minute cancellation so we could use the operating room on 10/6. It was a welcome relief to have the planets align in our favor for a change!

The surgery went well and I was able to bring her home on Saturday afternoon. She was there about 32 hours. Paul was with me all day and until we went home after dinner about 10 PM. Debbie was able to get to the hospital about 4 PM and I gave her a ride back to Wheaton. I was very glad and thankful that they were both there.

There was one bit of humor for the day. Paul did a classical reading of one of his mother's romance novels for us with some ad libs thrown in from the perspective of "if I was writing this trash I would have said it this way!" Debbie and I were in tears we were laughing so hard, especially with Paul's voice impersonations. I think this has possibilities of becoming a family tradition with Uncle Paul.

Natalie is walking and resting, feeling stronger each day. She is going to go "cranial prosthesis" shopping on Thursday in preparation for the chemo. She will probably return to work on Thursday or Friday to just get some necessary things done in 2 - 3 hours. She does find her job life-giving and intends to keep at it. Afterall, the quality of life and getting something positive out of each day is what counts. This is no time to feel sorry for ourselves or about our situation. WE ARE GOING TO KEEP ON LIVING and hope each of you do the same.

Thank you so much for your prayers. Keep them coming. The next 6 months will be a challenge. We will be in need of some divine intervention. God's Speed and God Bless.


PS In case you didn't figure it out, a cranial prosthesis is a wig! Make it a great day.

I was hoping to end this post with the picture of all of us on our family vacation at Pentwater, MI in August, but I'm still waiting for a certain sibling to send it to me. So instead here's a picture of my niece, Riley, riding a pony. More pictures of my nieces here.

Riley Riding a Pony


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When I was a kid growing up, I remember watching TV and, from time to time, on a show someone would be rushed to the ER and their husband or parent would spend the night in the hospital room with them. They would always seem so heroic, having to spend ... [Read More]

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