This Post is Simply Self Preservation 

I am so loved, that many of my friends and family have constant medical updates if not with me, then with my husband. As much as I would love to call all of my loved ones and have a one-on-one with them, I just don’t have the energy.After being about three weeks into my latest chemo treatment, it became blazingly apparent that this wasn’t going to be a “walk in the park” but rather a steep climb up the Swiss Alps. Some of the more notable side effects have been vomiting, muscle spasms, fatigue, itchy welts, shortness of breath and a bad taste in my mouth followed by a lack of appetite. The cancer struggle has been real!

Last week the tumor board met at MD Anderson and this week I was told that the targeted, directed therapies are not an option for me. Since the tumors have caused so much liver damage, they fear that the procedure would also cause damage, and I just don’t have enough healthy liver to mess with.

The possibility of receiving this therapy was my silver lining. Instead, it was a punch straight to the gut.

Mission Control:  We Have Options

Well y’all (pardon me, I’ve been in Texas too long) I know this update has been highly anticipated, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Before I get into the details… I want to get something crystal clear.  Many of you (with great intentions) have hoped and prayed for a miracle.  You are right: A miracle is what will be in order for me to survive this.  I have stage IV cancer of an incurable disease.  This means that I will be on some sort of treatment for the rest of my life.  What tiny miracles we are looking for are additional treatment options to buy me more time.

Now, with that being said, that is why we went to Houston, because about the time I got in the bike accident/excess insulin drama we also discovered that although the third type of a very expensive chemo was great at controlling my tumor markers, it didn’t do so hot at controlling my actual tumors.  In the three months I was on the treatment the tumors in my liver grew, and now they cover nearly 100% of my liver – which used to only be about 65% covered.  With the price of that old chemo, I often joked that I should sweat sparkles. (Okay, I might have said shit sparkles – I’ll let you decide which one you prefer to remember.)

Back to Houston. We met with a team of providers that only see and treat nueroendocrine patients.  I was reminded once again that science has not quite caught up to this disease and no one has figured out what causes it.  It’s just plain and simple bad luck.  My team in Houston plan to work together with my team in Las Cruces.  Some tests and treatments will need to occur in Houston while others can happen back home.  Right now, my chief complaint is the side effects of the medicine that is regulating my insulin.  This crap is nasty stuff!!!  There are some targeted and directed therapies that might be able to isolate those insulin-secreting tumors and calm them down (music to my ears).

My oncologist also informed me that he will be presenting my case to 20 of his peers at a team conference where they will discuss as a group the details of my case and make recommendations based on everyone’s areas of expertise.

So, to answer the single pain-staking question: No, MD Anderson did not have the miracle to rid this cancer from my tired body.  But, what I walked out of there with was many new sets of eyes, many more options, I am now entered into their research database to help advance medicine for the next generation, I have an appointment to go back, a relationship with an expert and the very most important thing I had almost lost… new-found hope.

IMG_0915

My beautiful, sweet and kind cousin decided at the last minute to catch a flight from Denver to Houston since her bestie lives there. After a full day at the hospital I was greeted by her shining face at our hotel. I am someone that is rarely surprised and I was SHOCKED to see her. Thank you Nikki and Brandon for the collaboration… Love you both tons!

Houston, We Have a Pile Up

Pile up is the only way to describe the time since my last update, and as a result, I’m headed to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston next week.  Lemme start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, I was out for a bike ride with Jeremiah. It was a perfect late summer / early autumn evening and I was glad to be out. While we we’re riding, ‘Miah dared me to race him and to use the extra gears on my bike to see if it would make me go faster. Long story short, the asphalt won.

The bike handle bar also won, as it dug up into my abdomen when I fell. It hurt, but I survived. I started to feel pretty uncomfortable in my abdomen and thought that maybe I had a bruised or broken a rib. I went to bed that night a little tender all over, but with nothing majorly wrong. That was a Thursday night.

I woke up to paramedics in my bedroom on Friday afternoon.

Brandon told me later that I had slept in on Friday morning. It was midday Friday when he checked in on me and realized I was nearly unconscious and unresponsive. A call to 911 and a couple tests by the paramedics showed my blood sugar was dangerously low. I managed to eat some sweets to prop up my blood sugar and bounced back fairly quickly, which was good, because Saturday was going to be busy. I had Briton’s golf tournament in T or C, Jeremiah’s football game and NMSU’s Stuff the Stadium game.

Due to the busy day planned Saturday, my fuzzin’ Nicole came to stay with me Friday night and help me get ready for the day.  Again, woke up with paramedics around me. This time, I went to the hospital.

After a few days of rest in the hospital, a CT scan and closely-monitored blood sugar, my doctors saw new tumor growth and think they’re now producing extra insulin. That insulin was driving my blood glucose levels dangerously low. Monitoring my blood sugar every two to three hours became really important.

Fortunately, my Gomez Gems sprung into action. I’ve had a constant stream of visitors and helpers these past couple weeks at the house, morning, noon, night and midnight. They help check my sugar, try to make sure I’m eating enough, rub my back when I’m feeling achy, and keep my spirits up. Thank you all.

So, where am I today?  My docs have found a new medication to regulate my insulin, so my glucose is a lot more stable. But because I seem to have every known side effect to this medication, I’m not feeling so great. Think bloating like I swallowed a watermelon, swollen joints like I ate a tablespoon of salt, burping like I drank a 2 liter of Coke, gas like I ate a pound of pinto beans, and nausea worse than morning sickness, all at once. Seriously.

Come Monday, I have an appointment with a team of doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. They’ll be reviewing my case with a completely fresh set of eyes to see if there are any options we haven’t thought of.

So, Houston, we’re on our way. Let’s try to avoid a pile up in Texas traffic. We’re already leaving one back in Las Cruces.