Mom update — chemo wrap-up

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.

6 thoughts on “Mom update — chemo wrap-up

  1. The CAT scan shows no trace of cancer, and the CA-125 is 5.9.

    That’s wonderful! It definitely calls for a dancing hamster 🙂

    The neuropathy….would gentle massage, and/or warm water treatments (as in a hot tub) help? I know it’s nerve damage, but I’m wondering if increasing the circulation / blood flow to that area might help. Seems to make sense that it would, in my little befuddled blonde brain.

    I’m so glad Mom’s doing well 🙂

  2. I read this to Mom (was on the phone with her when I got the notice) and she chuckled.

    She said last night that her feet seemed to be a little bit better. If there’s any progress, that’s cause for hope — progress can continue. She’s also got a prescription for foot massage by a physical therapist that she’s going to hold off to see if she can do without. But she’s got a vibrating foot bath that she’s using every day and that’s seemed to help. And there’s a hot tub at the club house of her apartment complex, and she’s walking there every day now, so she might give that a try if she has a bathing suit that fits (the last one she bought was almost 12 years ago, and my older daughter told her at the time that if she wore it in public “people would laugh at [her]”.). She’s dropped a bunch of weight with this, so it’s doubtful that it still fits.

  3. Yes. That’s what we’re thinking. I’m going down to see her tomorrow, take her her black leather jacket (that matches mine), and take her out English Country Dancing for the evening. Once she knows where it is and how to get started, and a few of the folks there, it’ll make a nice gentle way of getting a bit of exercise that’s more fun than walking.

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