That picture right there...that was how I felt after I spoke to my mom this afternoon...like doing the Snoopy dance.
These past couple of months have been challenging and full of bad news. The whole brain radiation was very difficult on Mom. She lost a lot of weight in the month that she was off chemo. Then, she needed a blood transfusion. Then, she got a bad result on her CT scan. In the month that she was off chemo (due to the radiation treatment), the cancer seemed to spread like wildfire. There was significant growth in her liver and stomach, she had new tumors in her pancreas.
So, the Dr. put her on yet another chemo regimen. As these things progress they get more and more toxic. Now she gets an IV infusion of Oxilaplatin and needs to take two pills, twice a day, of Xeloda. She goes one week and is off one week and started an on week the Monday before Christmas. And, Xeloda needs to be taken on a full stomach. Mom had been having trouble eating since the radiation (every Dr. appointment measured a loss of 2-5 pounds). So, every breakfast and dinner was filled with anxiety and tentative eating and usually having to try several different things before she could get something to stay down.
Almost every moment of the holidays, I worried that this would be the last Thanksgiving and Christmas I would get to spend with my Mom. Every time I saw her, she was weaker...not of mind but of body. And, maybe, just maybe, a little spirit. It's got to be hard when you feel like you're wasting away. Add getting violently ill several times a day...just the thought of it brings me to my knees.
So, she was on her 2nd week of this new chemo when we all went to St. Croix to celebrate my Aunt and Uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. When my parents originally booked their tickets, Mom had to come back on the 9th because she was scheduled to have chemo on the 10th. When that changed, and she wasn't having chemo again until the 17th, I tried to convince her to stay in St. Croix longer. I think that appealed to her but Dad was worried that the new chemo was going to make her sick and he didn't want to be that far from her doctors if she had a bad reaction. So, they planned to come home Sunday night with the rest of us.
But...when I got down there on Thursday (they had been down since Tuesday), she looked practically like another person. She hadn't gotten sick since she arrived in St. Croix; she was able to eat a lot more and her appetite had returned; she didn't have that deathly pallor she'd been sporting for a month or two. (And, this was an ON week for chemo. She had chemo via IV on the 3rd and started the Xeloda then too. She was taking four of those pills a day while she was down there.) Do not let anyone tell you that the sun is bad for you. Yes, you need to cover up. And, you should always have sunblock on. But, oh my, I am convinced that being in the sun and warm weather was responsible for her big turnaround. So, I made it my mission to convince them to stay longer. Finally on Sunday (about a half hour before they were to check out), Mom decided to stay until Thursday. They ended up leaving Friday morning (I changed their flight again because I didn't want them standed in the Puerto Rico airport due to the snowstorm).
So, now Mom's had 3 treatments (over a 5 week period) of this new chemo regimen (1 course) and was scheduled to have a CT yesterday. It was postponed until this afternoon. She has her regular appointment for chemo on Monday and we expected to hear the results then. But, her Dr. called late this afternoon. I am sure that her heart stopped when he called her. I know mine did when she called to tell me at 4 today. She said, Dr. B. called to tell me the CT results. And boom. Heart stoppage. I thought for sure it was going to be, the chemo's not working, we really should stop treatment. I almost couldn't concentrate on what she was saying. And, actually made her repeat it.
All the tumors in the liver, pancreas, stomach, esophagus, show a marked decrease in size. No new growths.
We'll get the full report on Monday, but there it is. Thank God. This nasty, awful, nightmarish chemo is working.
Everyone, do the Snoopy Dance. I know I am.