Since my last update, Lori has continued to receive once-a-month Doxil infusions at the UNC Cancer Clinic. Scans had shown progress with the reduced tumor size, and she experienced very few side-effects. However, over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed considerable growth in the tumor. At her latest checkup, Dr. Carey was concerned but needed further testing to see what was happening. One of two possibilities existed:
1. The chemo was no longer working and the tumor was growing indicating the cancer was probably spreading throughout the rest of her body as well
2. the tumor was hardening and was not able to be penetrated by the chemo but the chemo was still working well to fight the cancer cells elsewhere in her body.
Lori returned the next day for full body scans and the scans revealed that there was little change elsewhere in her body. The liver showed no further damage or buildup of cancer cells, and the bones showed no marked difference in the lesions. So, it appears option 2 is what we have now, and that’s good news. Although we don’t know for sure, the tumor is apparently now so hard that the chemo is unable to break it down, but it’s ok because breaking down the primary tumor isn’t our goal. We’re more concerned with the rest of her body, and she is doing well particularly in the vital organs.
Because the tumor is larger and harder and there are more nodules on the surface, Dr. Carey referred Lori to the surgeon at UNC to discuss the possibility of having a mastectomy accomplished. She thought it might be a good course of action because it would prevent the breast tumor from ever penetrating through to the surface in turn causing more pain, bleeding, skin problems, etc. Although it doesn’t seem to help the survival rates of patients, it sometimes helps prevent skin problems. So, we met with the surgeon today.
The surgeon had a great personality. He reminded me of Dr. S in that he was very straight-forward but also calming even as we discussed some serious issues. He has a very unique manner about him, and we both felt better after having spent some time with him. He’s also rather handsome apparently, and as he examined her breasts, Lori was all tongue-tied as she tried to answer his questions about her medical history and our pending move to Ohio. Man it was funny. Anyhow, he did not recommend surgery at this time. There are quite a few reasons:
1. The tumor isn’t threatening to break through to the surface
2. It’s a large tumor, and he would have to perform a wide-area mastectomy which would likely require skin grafts further complicating the healing
3. Lori would have to stop chemo for a month prior to surgery then wait until she was all healed post-op because chemo would prevent her immune system from allowing her to heal. Stopping treatment for 2-3 months might not be worth the potential gains of removing the breasts.
4. It’s not proven to help her survival rate
So that’s it for now. Her next chemo is still scheduled for 18 Dec. She still has no significant side-effects. Even her fatigue has been down lately.
Meanwhile we are busy this month getting ready to move to Dayton, Ohio. I still don’t have official orders yet, but that didn’t stop us from selling our house here in NC and buying one in OH. We close on our house in NC 31 Dec and we close on our new home 2 Jan. Until I get orders, the AF won’t pay for movers to pack/transport our household goods, so we are packing everything ourselves and moving our stuff into three storage units near our neighborhood. Our friends and neighbors have been here every night for the past week helping pack up the rooms, and we’re making great progress! We’ll be home in IN and IL for Christmas then I’ll return to NC to finish up the final house touch-ups before we close 31 Dec. Lori and the kids will move into our home in Dayton with only the essential goods which we’ll move ourselves (a couple of beds, washer/dryer, kitchen items, a couch, and of course the TV). Until my orders come through, I’ll be in NC during the weekdays and in OH on weekends. I’ll also be taking a good chunk of leave to limit my back-and-forth over that time. I expect the orders to come through relatively soon anyhow.
Our plan is to return to the IU Cancer Clinic to get back with Dr. S after the move. Unfortunately, it’s a 2 hour 15 minute drive from our house to Indianapolis. On the other hand, we have family nearby so we’ll have their help again as we coordinate schedules on treatment days.
Continue to pray for strength and healing for Lori. Also pray we don’t allow ourselves to get stressed out with holidays, AF admin, moving hassles, kids (Jude literally almost bit the end of his tongue off two days ago), etc. So far I don’t feel any stress or worry, and Lori is loving the busyness of each day. I really think she does better when she has work like this to keep us active. We’re happy!