Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Sister Update

It's been a while since I updated you on the sister. For those just tuning in, one of my sisters developed lung cancer. (no, she never smoked). When we last wrote, the sister had visited the Stanford Cancer Center and learned that her doc had been doing everything right and there was no magic bullet. That was last fall.

Since then a couple of things have happened. First, she tried a maintenance drug, Tarceva. The goal here was to contain the cancer rather than try to kill it. The benefit of the approach was that she'd hopefully have an improved 'quality of life'. I.e., the day to day stuff would be better, even if the cancer wasn't going away. However, the cancer should have been contained by Tarceva.

Sadly, that wasn't the case. Right after Christmas last year we learned that the cancer had spread in some cases and grown in others. Not good news, so she went back to standard chemo.

The good news about the chemo she's been on since January is that there have been fewer side effects. Since October 2007, when she was first diagnosed, the sister has been in the hospital three times (all brief stays) as a result of reactions to her chemo. The current drug has had milder side-effects. She's taking this month off from chemo and will resume again in May. The next Petscan, to find out how it's going, is at the end of the month. (drum roll, please)

One of the newer problems, which started last fall, was that she developed cataracts. I've heard this attributed to the chemo as well as steroids she takes to keep her energy up. Who knows. In any case, tomorrow, she goes in for cataract surgery. There will be two different surgeries, one for each eye. When she's done, at the end of the month, not only will she be cataract free, but for the first time in eons she won't need glasses. She also has an astigmatism which the insurance won't pay to fix. The Dr., however, is donating his services for that part of the process. Thanks doc. 

There you have it. Day to day she is fine.  She participates in her kids' school events, is active in church and has traveled some. (I had one friend who assumed she must be a shut-in. Not at all. No cartwheels, but not shut-in.)

She's chronically optimistic and upbeat. Her faith remains the cornerstone of that resiliency. She continues to have a cadre of friends who pitch in to assist her and to be her friend. Her family continues to help where we can, of course.

Posted via email from Lee's posterous


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