Labs showed her blood work was good on all fronts. White and red blood cell counts, platelets, etc. - all good. CA-19-9 count has gone from 244 to 47, an 80% drop to near normal levels. The tumor is shrinking too, showing roughly a 35-40% reduction. The involved veins/artery are still functional. Her weight is stable since the start of chemo.
Coupled with the fact Melisa has not had to take any additional pain, nausea, or other drugs to deal with side effects outside of what she receives during weekly infusions (and is generally feeling good the last two weeks) we are super encouraged, and reporting all good news today.
Now that we're on the other side of one - it's difficult to describe the level of emotion that goes with these scan meetings. The "scanxiety" people talk about is absolutely real, but I wasn't fully aware of the stress levels I had until experiencing the overwhelming relief of having good data today. It nearly brought us both to tears, and for 30 minutes after the results meeting it was hard for me not to break down into a sobbing heap in the lobby. Melisa handled it better, but also noted that she couldn't talk about it and was barely holding it together.
Let's just stop and enjoy this for one brief moment. Deep breathing. Just - let the relief take you for a second. All the info today was good. We're making progress. She's doing it.
We have already seen how numbers change during this process so we're guarded, but we're looking at today and celebrating - snapping mental and emotional pictures because today is GOOD. It validates her feeling better the last few weeks and invigorates us both for the next rounds, 'cause we're not stopping. In fact today was another infusion after meeting with the Doc., so Melisa's already in the trenches again. Her battle against evil continues.
As she comes to me at the end of the day and I hug her good night, she casts a sideways glance at our puppy Gus and says, "Its happening Gus. Your Moms gettin' better." Gus, who we got days before her cancer diagnosis earlier this year, stares back confidently like a good boy as if to say, "Of course you are."
Emotional Support Guests
Our Airbnb and VRBO guests from the last three weeks have been amazing. We've been graced with guests who've engaged with us and encouraged us in the most meaningful and active ways. I'm jokingly telling our Airbnb Ambassador team members that they are our "Emotional Support Guests". It means so much, and I have to share:
We had a young couple get married here a few weeks ago and then spend an evening sitting in lawn chairs here at the property, sharing their hopes and dreams with us as we in turn shared stories of our 31 year marriage and our vision of life during and after cancer. Not once did their positivity falter, and their active listening and questioning helped us articulate the future, making our vision of the future real by turning 'hopes' in to 'goals'. We will always remember you, and we thank you.
We had an family stay with us who just happened to have a former surgeon turned Naturalpathy practitioner with them. They cooked us vegetarian meals, and the Doc sat with us and provided much welcomed and needed support for our nutritional planning, along with sage advice from years of experience helping those going through cancer treatments. They may never know how closely their thinking and approach to life mirrors our own, or how validating it was to listen to their approach to mental as well as physical healing. For the food, guidance, follow up meetings, and support we are forever grateful. We will plant the Moringa seeds you provided and hope to share our progress with you for years to come.
And lastly, the family from last week who Melisa jokingly warned straight off that 'Tim will be sleeping in the RV, but there's nothing wrong with our marriage - he's in quarantine because he just got back from New York and I am doing chemo!' While speaking she'd whipped the trucker hat she was wearing off her head in a sarcastically resigned flourish to reveal her bald head. The family caught the sarcasm immediately and we didn't stop laughing the whole weekend. These were amazing and wonderful people with inquisitive kids we absolutely fell in love with as we gave pony rides and other animal experiences that we enjoyed as much or more than they did. Sometimes spending time here on the mini-ranch just being "normal" and laughing with our guests is all the medicine we need, and again we are thankful.
So we head into another week, or rather another 8 weeks. We're still in the research trial which brings extra attention and scanning from the staff at MD Anderson PHX, who we are so thankful for. The experience is as good as it gets so far. We feel genuinely cared for, and it makes the whole effort so much more doable. Onward to the next win.