Just got a call from Mom, and had been waiting on that to write an update about the situation. Here it is:
She had her last chemo treatment about five weeks ago. After the third chemo treatment, she noticed a problem with neuropathy (nerve damage) in her hands and feet. It improved between treatments quite substantially, but, with the cumulative nature of chemo, it was worse after each treatment than the one before. This was pronounced enough that the last two treatments used a slightly different formulation than the previous ones, and that seemed to be a bit easier on the neuropathy.
After the last treatment, she went to Great Falls for a week of IV treatments that helped counter the side-effects of the chemo. She then came home for a day to wash clothes and pack and leave for Arizona, to spend a few weeks with my brother and sister and family down there and to just be warm down there. She got back the 25th, and then went in for a CAT scan and blood test to track how effective the surgery and chemo have been in eliminating the cancer.
Throughout this process, the CA-125 test results have been good, with the exception of the very first one. This test tracks the number of cancer cells in the blood. “Normal” is considered 21 or lower — you and I might have a reading of 10 or 15 without that being a problem. Her first reading was high — 60-70 if I recall correctly. After the second chemo, it was about 8, and it’s been coming down steadily since then. However, the oncologist said that the reading they got now, a month after the last treatment was “the one we believe.”
Today was the appointment with the oncologist to look over the readings and discuss prognosis, and the call I just got was from the office — she’s not all the way done with the appointment, but wanted to give me the results. The CAT scan shows no trace of cancer, and the CA-125 is 5.9.
For where we’re at, this is as perfect a result as we could get. So now she doesn’t need to go back to see the oncologist for four months. That’s a good thing.
The neuropathy in her hands and feet has not gone away thus far. There is numbness going on that makes it feel like she’s wearing heavy boots when she’s barefoot. It’s possible that this can reverse, but it’s also possible that it may never go away.
She’s working now on getting more active. She was walking every day while she was in Arizona for about 5 minutes each day. Since she’s been back, she’s been walking a longer distance every day, and thinks in a day or two, at this rate, she’ll be walking from her apartment to the club house and back (which those who have been there will appreciate is a fair distance for someone who used to have a difficult time walking up and down the hall of her apartment). The club house also has a gym, an indoor swimming pool and a hot-tub, so she can start working some of those things into her fitness mix before much longer. We’re hoping that improving her fitness level can help rebuild the damage done by the chemo, including the neuropathy.
She’s planning to go back to work in the next two weeks. The people she works with have been very supportive through this whole thing, and she’s really looking forward to getting back into the groove again.
So, for now, that’s the situation. Thanks to everybody for your thoughts and prayers — they have obviously made a big difference here. She got through a whole round of chemo without developing an infection — very unusual for someone her age. She and our family are grateful for all the prayers and wishes on her behalf. We’re not totally done with this necessarily, but we’re certainly out of the worst part of the woods.
Thank you again.