I spent Easter weekend with my favorite peeps…and they weren’t even the marshmallow kind.
<ba dum dum>
Saturday’s festivities included a first birthday party for a very special little girl (I’m an honorary auntie) and the annual after-dark Easter egg hunt at “House Severus” (we scored toilet paper, paper towels, soap, snacks and more Tootsie Rolls than you care to know).
On Resurrection Sunday, we spent the better part of the day at my parents’ house where Uncle Pete and Aunt Sherry joined us for supper. We were elated at Christmas when Pete was able to keep down little bites of everything; this holiday brought the surprise that Pete has reacquired quite an appetite! He cleared a rather full plate and helped himself to three different desserts. Pete’s new chemotherapy involves taking a pill rather than undergoing the intravenous treatment, and it seems to be much easier on his body. Of course, only time will tell if it is as effective at staving off the multiple tumors’ growth.
Aside from Pete’s shorter, whiter hair (it’s coming back!), he was 100% Pete…joking, laughing, irreverent and sarcastic as ever. It was splendid!
We talked about going to visit our family down at the farm sometime soon, and I mentioned that I couldn’t go this weekend due to a prior engagement. Naturally, Pete took the opportunity to guilt-trip me mercilessly. “This might be the last time we all go down there together,” he teased.
Sadly, there’s an element of truth behind it. Pete’s recovery thus far has been remarkable, miraculous even—most people don’t have 9 massive brain tumors that shrink down to virtually nothing or get a 6-week life expectancy prognosis that turns into months and (hopefully) years—but we’re not guaranteed anything. Though things are looking sunny right now, the proverbial skies could cloud at any moment.
Rather than give in to the pangs of sorrow that shivered inside, I returned Pete’s banter. First, I called him on his ruse. He replied oh-so dramatically, “A ruse by any other name is still a ruse.”
Then I reminded him that it could be the last time we saw each other because I could die in a car accident any given day with my 80-mile roundtrip commute. He laughed and tossed back, “Well, what do you want me to do, go to work with you?”
You know, I sure wish I could bring him to work with me. It’d make the days better for everyone!
I talked with my mom shortly after posting my latest entry.
Pete had an appointment with his oncologist today, and x-rays show no change with the lung tumor. It might not be shrinking, but it’s not growing either! They won’t have another appointment for at least another 4 weeks with a PET scan at the end of February.
In other news, Kelly was able to go home today and she won’t need to have any chemotherapy!
We are enormously blessed 🙂
I have happy updates to share today!
My aunt Kelly had surgery yesterday, which was wholly successful. In addition to her mastectomy and reconstruction, the surgeon removed five lymph nodes—all of which turned out to be cancer-free! Assuming her overnight stay in the hospital went well, she will be discharged today.
News came for Uncle Pete, as well. The radiologist called him personally to share results from Tuesday’s MRI. Are you ready for this???
The largest brain tumor has shrunk to half its size yet again, and the smaller tumors are virtually gone! Pete’s next appointment with the radiologist isn’t for another two months.
Lung and other tumors will be examined again soon; it’s unlikely those results will be quite as favorable, but anything is possible. We never imagined that the radiation would have been so effective with the brain tumors reacting as favorably as they have.
Happy Friday, everyone!
Where does one begin after an extended absence? I de-Christmafied my house this past weekend, so maybe I should start with some reflections on Christmas. As luck would have it, this doubles as an update on my uncle Pete…
Over the past several months, Pete has been unable to keep food in his stomach apart from white rice, oatmeal and nutritional supplement drinks like Ensure. It was balancing a bowl of oatmeal while climbing the stairs that caused Pete quite a tumble back in November, thus halting his chemotherapy to allow his wounds time to heal. Given that hiatus and a change in medication, Pete’s stomach has slowly stabilized. At this point, any improvement is welcomed for his ever-shrinking build.
The temperamental stomach contributed to my parents hosting dinner this year instead of breaking in my new home—Pete had expressed to my mom that he felt more comfortable vomiting at her house if he needed to. Though it might sound a bit strange, it was somehow heartwarming to hear his confession; an odd little reminder of the bond and love known only with family.
To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, Christmas came just the same. We were prepared for Pete to have an unpleasant time, what with his stomach and witnessing our gluttonous feasting. But we were all overjoyed to see him in good humor and prepared to eat bits of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and part of a roll. The ham was unpalatable for him, but he managed tiny helpings of the rest. In typical Pete fashion, we were treated to the warning that he sounds like the creature from Jeepers Creepers when his body decides it’s time to evict a meal. Sure it’s gross, but it’s also pretty darn funny and that’s just Pete.
We didn’t exchange any gifts with Pete and Sherry—his $400/month seizure medication put the kibosh on that—and yet, I don’t think I’ve ever had a better Christmas. While I can’t yet fathom the possibility of this having been our last Christmas together, I know the odds are stacked steeply against us. If this was the last, it was a mighty fine one.
Though Pete’s brain tumors are under control, the various other tumors are unrelenting. We should know next month if the oncologists feel chemotherapy is the best treatment going forward.
I’d also like to ask that you keep in mind my aunt Kelly as she battles her relapsed breast cancer. It’s easy to think of breast cancer as a known quantity with guaranteed remission, but the reality is that it’s never a guarantee. We continue to covet your prayers for my family.
And you get a leak in the roof of your brand-new home, which means you get yucky wet sheetrock. All should be covered by warranty, thankfully, but not the most fun way to start a Monday.
In other “when it rains” news, my family faces a new cancer diagnosis…a re-diagnosis, actually. My aunt Kelly battled breast cancer about 14 years ago, and it has since decided to come out of remission. After the initial biopsy, it’s classified as Stage 2; Kelly will undergo a larger chest/abdomen scan this week to ensure it didn’t spread from somewhere else.
Kelly didn’t want to burden my uncle Pete and aunt Sherry with the development, thinking they have enough of their own worries. So my mom—being the oldest sibling—got the task of sharing this news over the weekend. Not surprisingly, Pete took the news with an optimistic outlook. “It could be worse,” he maintains (even in his own situation). They welcome the opportunity to pray for Kelly just as she has been praying for them.
It’s hard to try to imagine what the next several months will look like. I’m hopeful we’ll all be able to gather together for the holidays…even if a few of us are bald. I’m hopeful this year won’t be our last opportunity to do so.