We have officially begun round 2 of treatment. As mentioned previously, it’s all geared toward starving the cancer of hormones so that it can’t grow. We learned after my chemo treatment (spring and summer of 2012) that chemo wasn’t very effective. As the Houston Dr Osborne summarized it, ‘you have chemo resistant tumors…’ And, in our last conversation with our Dr. Osborne (Dallas Dr. O) she told us that the recurrence from the liver biopsy showed a very accelerated growth rate of 40% (>20% considered high so they really don’t like this number that is 2x higher than ‘high’). This also means that the anti-hormone therapy we have been doing wasn’t very effective at starving it. So, in the trial, we are now combining 3 meds that, Lord willing, block the cancer cells’ access to estrogen by inhibiting 3 different pathways. Using Dallas highway terms, we are putting back up a blockade on northbound 75 (similar drug that I was using previously) but also trying to block routes via Hillcrest and Greenville too. The estrogen snuck around our previous roadblock. As our doctor explained it, after any traffic block some cars will cut through the grass to service road and, over time, many will do the same. It seems as if the estrogen fought through our previous blockade to go around the roadblock and eventually feed the cancer. This is an impressive and unfortunate feat considering we have taken out my ovaries and gone to great lengths to starve it.
We started at 8:30 with bloodwork and saw my oncologist then transferred to the research area where we have a little private area for them to monitor my heart (EKGs throughout the day) plus half a dozen blood draws (I am glad to have my port again!). Then Cynthia brought Lincoln up. From his standpoint, this round seems is very different than my first diagnosis (he was 8 months old) so we are trying to include him and acclimate him to the doctor’s office and our new reality. He came and saw us in our little treatment/monitoring area and we also took him up to see Dr. Osborne who asked us to bring him because she had a treat for him. It was pretty cute – he walked around the nurses station and directly past all the exam rooms and the other doctor’s offices and went right into her office. It was less cute when he walked in and said ‘can I have my treat?’ 😁 At least he had a huge lovable smile on his face when he rudely greeted her by asking for a treat! Cringe.
When I was in the hospital, Scott and I met with a child life specialist following our doctor’s recommendation that we engage the hospital’s resources to help us prepare Lincoln. She explained some helpful things about how kids process serious illnesses. Since we are here all day, we wanted to introduce Lincoln to her and try to establish a relationship between them. She read a book to him about cancer and gave him a ‘mommy doll’ of a cancer patient. He was pretty cute with the book and answered her questions pretty well – seems to understand I am ‘big sick’ (not to be confused with ‘little sick’ like a cough or cold or tummy ache that he would get) and he knew that I have cancer and it wasn’t contagious. In contrast, things didn’t go so well with the mommy doll because ‘my mommy doesn’t have lellow hair.’ He was quite hung up on the hair color and pretty much disassociated with the doll because of her ‘lellow’ hair. Thankfully, unlike the doll, the conversation ‘took root’. The book was about flowers and weeds – cancer is like the weeds that harm the flowers so sometimes we have to kill the weeds with medicines that also hurt the flowers. Later he pretended to plant some weeds and flowers for Cynthia. Cute.
We are prayerful and hopeful about these medicines. My back pain (lower than the broken rib) has persisted and been quite painful. As such, sleep is hard and it’s hard to carry Lincoln or exercise or be on my feet very long. We will have another scan in 2 months to see how the meds are working – Lord willing, it will stop the growth or, in some cases, shrink the tumors. Over these last 2 weeks off of any medicines and with increased pain, it made Scott and I anxious about its growth and really hopeful that the pain doesn’t continue to escalate. We have had a really sweet Christmas. But it was also sobering and, at times, sad as well. The realities of what we are up against become more and more clear as we have time to think through the implications of a lengthy battle or, if God allows, death. I am increasingly convinced that God hates cancer but loves us. Thankfully, I have never doubted either of those. And we are praying the same for Lincoln.
I’ve attached some pics from our 8 hours at Baylor so far – with 2 more hours to go! As I attach the pictures, the man next to us has started yacking … Nice.
One more ENCOURAGING update…
As I was finishing with these pictures, our clinical trial nurse, Nancy (pictured below holding 2 of my 6 bottles of meds … ) came in to review the drug study protocols with me. Then, as she wrapped up, she exclaimed ‘I am so excited to have someone on this trial!’ She went on to explain that there is so much excitement about putting these 3 drugs together and the few spots that have become available (worldwide) have typically filled up within the first :35 minutes of being announced so it’s been discouraging because near impossible for patients to access the study. And I am the only one in Dallas. She tried to get one other patient on the study but there’s a long list of inclusions and exclusions and they didn’t meet the criteria. Hearing her excitement about the drugs and the rarity of an available slot was very encouraging (He is our provision …). In the past, when she knew of a possible candidate and had called they would offer a study that included 2 of the 3 drugs but never all 3. The Lord has made a way for me to get a slot for all 3 drugs with a very promising potential for treating metastatic breast cancer. In other words, “This is what the Lord says to his chosen one …’I will go before you and level mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter and iron bars I will hack through. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stashed away in secret places, so you may recognize that I am the Lord … “(Isaiah 45:2-3). Yes, Lord, you have. And we thank you.