Back Again

When I was about to head home yesterday, Kathleen texted me saying, “going to emerge, meet us there”. Its odd how the phrase, ‘going to emerge’ no longer elicits the same reaction it once did. Its the same with Kathleen deciding a txt message (used for messages like “C U @ 7pm ?”) was an appropriate medium for “going to emerge” 🙂 Reason # 823 why I love Kathleen. We can make light of a nurse saying she may have a fractured spine. Seriously. After closer investigation today, its doubtful, but along with herniated disc or a new tumor, a fracture was a possibility. The community nurse wanted her to get an emergency MRI. But talking with the Cancer center, we all decided it was not so urgent and that we should meet the pain team after the radiation in the AM to see whats up. Either way, she is in a great deal of back pain when she does pretty well anything other than sit in her chair. Can’t lay down, can’t stand, and its difficult to walk. This morning while getting her last radiation blast to the neck, she really had to fight throwing up from the pain.

We saw the Pain and Symptom team right after the radiation. They are really great and thorough people. As both Kath and I have managed chronic back issues over the years, we knew the drill and the types of diagnostic questions. We were all in agreement, its probably a disc issue, but the cancer spreading is also a possibility based on how dialed up the pain has become. It was a question of, is the MRI needed right this moment today, or in the near future. Near future. I really like this Doctor. Probably the most out of all the superb people we deal with. I have great confidence in their abilities, but I really appreciated him taking the extra time he takes to go through his diagnostic process. He took a good 5min to review all the internal debates he had in his mind while questioning and diagnosing Kathleen so that we knew he arrived at his decision with due consideration.

As for the CT report ? Its done. We haven’t seen it. Pain and Symptom doctor asked if it was ok that we talk it over with the main chemo doc who ordered the scan, as we would get the proper context. Kath said yes, that was OK. I would have rather seen it, but then again, I was the kid who at 4yrs old asked my mother what a mortgage was. I want to know, but I guess in my gut, we both kind of know. Expect the worst, hope for…. an extension? Yes, that’s what it feels like. Back in our university days, Kath and I could be awful procrastinators. I feel like I am hoping the doctor tomorrow will give us an extension. We eventually have to hand in the essay so to speak, but, um, Orville ate our class notes. Can we have another year ? 🙂

If this post sounds a bit grim, I am not doing the day justice. We laughed and smiled and invented a new religion in the Doctor’s office that Kathleen will lead (St. Kathleen, of the coordinated traffic lights). You see, she has a thing about unsynchronized traffic lights 🙂

As today was the last round of radiation, Jan bought some celebratory cupcakes! She is an amazing person our Jan. Love, support and friendship in good times and bad. We are lucky to have her here.


Burning Issues

Its been a tough cycle mentally . Kathleen’s main metric for what the cancer is doing (for better or worse) is how the lymph nodes in her neck feel and look. Its not been good. While they initially shrunk, they seem to be getting bigger in the last 3 weeks. But they are definitely hurting more which takes us back to August when the lumps first popped up. Sometimes the sites where the cancer has spread initially respond to the poison… and then they stop responding. We dont know that for sure, but its not a good sign. As a result, we are going back to the radiation oncologist on Thursday to see if anything can be done to help with the pain. Its a bit tricky to zap around the neck as there is too much going on in that region which could be damaged if they are not careful. But thanks to RIM and a whole host of other generous local donors, the cancer center has some great modern equipment here. We also see the chemo oncologist tomorrow. Of course, we will ask for his interpretation / assessment as well. Not feeling very optimistic. But then again, I think I have become numb to optimism and pessimism to some degree. At some point, I think our bodies dial down the amount of emotion you can feel…. or you just reach a point where you become heavier on the stoicism and numbness. We have to, in order to make it through.

Thinking of this great pic of Kathleen from the summer. She was on a 7 day infusion of 5FU while getting the radiation treatments. Despite feeling crappy and barfy and having a chemo bottle connected to her 7×24, she wanted a day at the beach. It was an amazing day. One of my favorite beach days. Ever. More pics of that day with our friends Jan and Diane at They are nice to look at during this winter spell


Round 11 starts Friday if her blood work is OK.