Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Cancer: The Devil You Know

The water she has to drink
prior to the CT scan
It's been a while since an update, and that's because we've been overwhelmed with the new chemo cycles and the crippling downturn of the entertainment industry this year. I'm used to not being busy due to high school football, but it's been worse than that, and for months instead of weeks. We are both dealing with life, the best way we know how. My way, for example, includes bourbon.

At the last visit to the oncology center, Cathy was chatting with one of the nurses she's gotten to know better and we found out that there's a cool, fun nickname for the melted Flavor-Ice looking stuff that she gets at the beginning of each new cycle.

They call it "red devil."

I wish I was being funny.

This is the stuff that they can only give Cathy a certain amount of before it starts to damage her body and they have to stop. In fact, they've been monitoring her vitals and counting the particles in her urine and all sorts of extra stupid human tricks that we didn't have to do the first time, because "red devil" is so bad for you, but it's worse for cancer. Unless it's not. They don't know. It's a guessing game, especially with Ovarian Cancer.

Waiting on our turn.
"Red devil" is appropriately named. Cathy has been throwing up, defying five levels of drugs designed to keep her from throwing up. She's tired all the time, moreso than before. About the only good thing this time around is that she's keeping her hair. She's been excited to let it grow out.

In addition to the new problems, all of the other symptoms from before have returned to make a guest appearance in this shitshow; up first, the hiccups, which were a great opening act, a true callback to our salad days. After that came the neuropathy, ensuring that every step Cathy takes is uncertain and strange. Then it was the mouth sores, the weird skin, extreme fatigue and all the rest.

Still, there was hope on the horizon. After two rounds of this stuff, they ordered a CT scan. It was to determine if the stuff was working. If it wasn't, they would stop it and go to a different treatment. If it was, well, we were going to ride the red devil to the end of the line.

That CT scan was last Friday. We got the initial report on Monday.

While her cancer marker numbers were down, almost halfway (which is good), the tumor shrinkage was mixed. Some of them have shrunk, and some of them have gotten larger. The overall mass amount has stayed the same, meaning that on the whole, there's been little change. In the discussion that followed, Cathy learned that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since the markers were down. Ovarian cancer is hard to kick, and many people end up living with the disease for years.

Living with the disease. For years. Is this who we are, now?

It was not the news we wanted to hear. But we talked our way through it, and vowed to table most of our concerns until we could meet with her oncologist again (next week) and go over treatment options and get a detailed report. That was Monday night.

Tuesday afternoon, I was driving back from a supply run in Wichita Falls when Cathy told me she needed to go to the Emergency Room. She was dizzy, nauseous, and had a bad headache. She felt swollen and weird. As I rocketed down highway 287, trying to get to the ER as quickly as possible, I punched the air in the car for about five minutes and screamed at nothing.

Turns out, her blood pressure had spiked considerably. They stabilized her with anti-nausea meds delivered through her port, and her BP came down, though it's still high. This is yet another side effect of Red Devil, and one of the reasons why she's had to do the extra stupid human tricks to make sure she's not making an existing  condition worse. We continue to monitor her blood pressure. We may have to go back to the hospital again today if it spikes like it did yesterday.

You can imagine, this has been taxing on us both, mentally and physically. Cathy needs more care this time around, and it leaves me feeling more helpless that I can't do anything for her except go fetch a cold wet cloth when she's violently throwing up. The outside (regular life) stress isn't helping, either.

I'm sorry this isn't better news, nor is it particularly funny. I do want to wrap this up by saying we've gotten some serious financial help from a few people recently that has been a godsend. Many others have privately asked me what they can do. Cathy and I talked about it and there are a couple of things. We have all of the care products covered, and now that Frozen II is out, we have an audience again, so it's not as financially dire as it was. But if you want to help out, the following is most appreciated:

Our GoFundMe page is still active, and people are still using it, and it's been a life line for us. I am terrible about updating there, because I always update here, and most of you see it, but several of our friends have given more than one donation via GoFundMe. We are closer and closer to our amended goal, and even a small donation is a big help.

The other thing we could really use is Gift Cards to United Supermarkets or Natural Grocers. It's important that Cathy eat when she's hungry, and some of the things she can eat can only be found at Natural Grocers. In addition to her AIP needs (no grains, no soy, etc.) she has to watch her sugar intake, and also her dairy intake, for lots of reasons. We're this close to becoming free-range freegans, I swear.

And of course, the other thing that has really been a boost is the cards and letters we've received from so many of you. In the midst of the piles of bills and credit card offers and business mail and all of it, the greetings stand out, along with the postcards and the odd package or two. It's the thing that helps inspire us to go through the mail.

While this has not been the 2019 we imagined we'd be having, it would have been impossible to get through without all'a y'all. This Thanksgiving, we're thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving and Much Love,
Mark and Cathy
The North Texas Apocalypse Bunker

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