Friday, November 22, 2013

Back to that stupid cancer thing....

It's been so very long, months now since I update the blog, but I have been living. Enjoying life, dealing with cancer and generally not feeling like this story needed much more telling. I wanted to just be the old Maggie that I have been for some time with out feeling responsible to myself or others about keeping anything up to date. 

Summer was wonderful in the sense that Madeline was home and we all had an easy time of living together again. She was back for that first summer after being away at school. It seemed easier that the summer before when we were all so anxious about her leaving. This summer we set out our objectives and hopes for each other and that made our time together even that much better. 

The other part of the summer that wasn't quite so easy was dealing with the cancer. The study at the NIH ended for me in May. I didn't pass the first round of tests that determined whether or not the drug was working for me. As is always the case, when I have not been taking active chemo treatments, the cancer grows on and on. And while I had been busy visting the NIH, the cancer had grown around my anus and was causing me severe pain. 

Dr. Chapman at KUMed and I decided that I would best be served by not coming back to KUMed and to seek treatment with Dr. Stein in Lawrence. The next step was radiation. We have held off on the radiation for a long time. In the US, it is medical protocol to use chemotherapy first and then radiation as a last resort. Once an area has been irradiated it is dead and cannot then pass chemotherapy to new diseased tissue.  So I took some time during the summer to get the pain under control. After a family reunion in upstate New York and then a wedding in Colorado, we returned to Lawrence and I had 20 rounds of radiation. In my opinion, chemotherapy is ten times harder than radiation, but radiation also presents it's own horrible and miserable side effects. I was lucky to only suffer from some extreme exhaustion for a time. 

I then enjoyed my break from radiation. I went to South Carolina with my sisters and brother in law. I went to Philadelphia with Richie to visit Miss Madeline and I have been spending good times with Richie and Charlie while at home. And as always on this journey, it is time to return to the serious business of cancer.

My goal when I was first diagnosed was to make it to Madeline's high school graduation. That happened, it was wonderful and now here we are almost two years later and my new goal is to make it to Charlie's graduation. I want to watch my baby boyo walk up and receive his diploma and then watch what comes after. For Madeline, we had a big, old bash and while Charlie is not likely to ask for the same, we will still celebrate his accomplishments in whatever fashion he chooses! 

Back to the stupid cancer thing, I had radiation to control the pain the cancer was causing in my lower pelvis. That was very successful, and provided me with the break I spoke of. But the cancer was also growing on my liver at the same time and now, 2 months later, it is causing concern from Dr. Stein. In August, the ctscan showed an approximately .9mm sized growth, now I have three separate growths!! I have two choices, to return to chemo treatment or to do nothing. 

I choose to have another series of chemo treatments in an attempt to get to May 2014. Richie, Charlie and I will meet with Dr. Stein on Monday afternoon.  He is likely to encourage two different kinds of chemo and I will likely do whatever he suggests. If I can get another six months along, it's worth all the fatigue, nausea and aches that the chemo will bring. 

So, hang on to your hats, you might see me moving around with that sour face again. And that would be good, I hope to be walking around for a bit longer. 

Thanks again for the love, the hugs, the food. We're headed to St Louis for our Murphy Thanksgiving celebration. There's not much that makes me happier than to hang out with my mom and my brothers and sisters for a few days. And don't worry, I still have some living to do and we all know that there's great mystery in living, there's no telling what will happen!!

2 comments:

Charlie Upton said...

You are engulfed by the love and support of thousands....including the Uptons....thinking of you always. Charlie, Cydney, Hannah and Mason

Thomas Howe said...

Maggie, may the love that you have attracted by your strength and spirit keep you safe and comfortable, you know that KD and I are sending the best possible vibes your way. We love you so much.