November 25: Day 178

The CT showed Thursday that the Avastin simply did not have the result we hoped. Nearly six months from diagnosis day, all treatment options have run their course. The liver cancer is worse, how much worse is difficult to tell as the borders of the cancer are difficult to discern/define. The liver cancer in the lungs has also progressed. 

There was a substantial amount of fluid that showed up on the CT this time also, so Dr. Otteman drained a fair amount of that out, which should give Mom a bit of relief. The hole continued to drain fluid throughout the weekend, which is good, as it is far better to drain outside the body than inside. She will likely need this procedure done again as the hole will heal and the fluid will again accumulate. 

We are somewhat hopeful that now that Mom is off all of the cancer drugs, she will have a period of feeling at least a tad better (if even for a short time) as all of the side effects from those drugs subside. That said, she is, for the most part, confining herself to the home as she has lost a good amount of mobility. 

For those of you keeping track, on May 30, the AFP tumor marker sat at 16,668. We saw that number dip with the use of the Nexavar throughout the summer (into the 12,000s) and then it shot back up. October 31, that number was 37,145 and November 14, 40,374. 

There are some other liver function numbers that the Drs look at, and at the moment, most of those look okay, meaning the liver is still functioning, albeit not on all cylinders as this is why we have the fluid accumulating in the abdominal cavity. Simply put, the liver is compromised by the tumors pressing on the portal vein and just taking up real estate in other areas and while it still works, it cannot keep up. 

We are now engaging the services of the amazing hospice organization and this will help a great deal with coordinating care from the various agencies as we try to keep Mom comfortable. Mom's goal is to remain in the home, and we will do everything we can to help with that. Dr. Otteman said that nearly 90% of the people who wish to remain in the home are able to do so, but we are trying hard to not be attached to any one outcome. 

All that news aside, tis the season, and we have so very, very much to be thankful for. Mom has lived with all three children and all six grandchildren within a stone's throw nearly their entire lives, something I have often reminded her that these days is virtually unheard of. 

Rather than feeling shorted for the time we will not get, I continue to find myself in awe and grateful for the time we have. The amazing influence Mom's care will forever imprint upon our kids as they grow through their formative years will continue to ripple outward, much as it has with each of us as parents, and also for the teachers and kids she worked with at Fellows: if only we all could claim such a legacy!  

I keep going back to a line Dan Woodin wrote months ago on his Facebook page. He lamented that we tend to sit around after such a diagnosis and ask ourselves, "Why me?" and yet, the real question we should all ask ourselves, is, "Why NOT me?" 

It struck me deeply when I read it, as somehow, before cancer takes up residence in someone very close, our nature seems that we tend to live in a state of blissful ignorance; somehow believing we are strangely immune. Then it knocks and we realize, we quite simply, are not unlike everyone else. 

There is great wisdom in learning to live with "Why NOT me?" instead of living "Why me?" and it transfers seamlessly to virtually every aspect of life. Cancer does not discriminate good from bad, it just is. How we choose to live with cancer or ultimately die with cancer (or whatever other obstacle) is truly the only thing we can control. Choosing immense gratitude for the wisdom, the gifts left in the wake of the tornado that ripped through our family these past six months, seems virtually the only option. 

Our birth and 'chosen' families continue to surround and lift up each of us, and we are blessed by countless acts of generosity, kindness and support from so many of you again and again. It is overwhelming to even type that without being overcome with emotion. 

I will do my best to continue updates, as I know many of you are following along from afar. 

Enjoy this week of Thanksgiving. 
In Abundant Gratitude,