It’s been 2 weeks since we hauled Prairie Dog for the summer, spent a couple of days “summer-izing” her, then 2-1/2 days on the road, driving home. We hadn’t planned to end our winter in Florida so soon, but as many of you know, my sister has been battling pancreatic cancer for the past 18 months. I don’t think she’s been off chemotherapy for more than 4 weeks at a time during the past year and a half. It’s brutal. When we went south just prior to Christmas, she had just finished an 18-week regimen of Gemzar and Abraxine chemotherapy. Her cancer marker number had plummeted and she went back to work full time the first of January. We were so hopeful that the cancer could now be managed and she was getting her life back for a while. But her labs within the month showed her cancer marker number again rising, and she was back in treatment within two weeks of being back to work full time. Two treatment cycles later, Amy’s lab work indicated that the chemotherapy was no longer working and after more appointments, more tests and scans, and loads of paperwork, she was accepted to the START program, phase 1 of a clinical trial. Ron and I began rethinking our date to head home.
About three weeks ago we learned that Amy has developed blood clots in her lungs. This is not uncommon in late stage cancer patients, but that news did me in. We made plans that morning to head back to the boatyard as soon as weather conditions allowed. Marco Island and Naples can wait another year.
We returned home in time for Easter weekend. It has felt so good to be back reconnecting with family, able to help out with my parents who are still adjusting to their new home in a retirement community near us, able to be with my sister during her 12-14 hour chemo days and to help in some way. She has lost her appetite, is dealing with nausea, and has started to lose weight again. She is so fatigued and is experiencing a lot of pain (that interferes with the sleep she sorely requires). That said, despite all of this, she is healthy for a pancreatic cancer patient. However, this time around she admits that she feels like she has cancer. She is losing her hair (3rd time–just as it was finally beginning to grow again). Because she’s in a clinical trial, she keeps a daily log of multiple items, checks her blood sugar every morning (due to the experimental chemo drug she takes in pill form off and on during the 3-week cycle), and the real kicker: gives herself blood thinner injections (into her stomach) twice daily to control the blood clots in her lungs. Some times it just seems like too much, and then another thing is added. It is hard. It is brutal. I am where I want to be.–jes