Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2/23/16 Feb. 23 CT scan results

Hello, friends and family.  Steve checking in.
Gabrielle had her much anticipated, and equally dreaded CT scan today:  pelvis, abdomen and chest.  The nights leading up to this saw many sleepless folks in the Dudley household.  I guess worry can do that to you.  Anyhow, cutting to the chase, there was some definite improvement in the abdominal lymph nodes.  One, for example, had shrunk from 1.9 cm on the October scan, to 1.1 on today's!  That's great.  They're still there, but smaller, so I guess the Doxil is doing its job, albeit slowly.  Still no advancement of disease in the abdomen.  Nothing in the pelvis, so we're good there.  Interestingly, the radiologist's report said her gall bladder was surgically absent.  Funny.  We never knew that.  Perhaps he missed seeing it.  As for the chest, the same lymph nodes are there, and about the same size. One is a skosh bigger, but not by much, just a millimeter.

So, that's all good news!  Right?  Right!  But it was met with a bit of disappointment too, as we had hoped that after four months of harsh chemo, things would be even better.  Doc said that this drug "takes time", so we need to be patient.  The toughest part is that she had hoped to be given a reprieve from the chemo after a total of six treatments (six months, that is), and then have a break for a while, like she did last time.  This go round, apparently the plan is to stick with it indefinitely if the side effects aren't too bad.  That's a huge adjustment to have to make: going from "I'll be done after two more treatments" to "I may have to be on this for the rest of my life".  So we are adjusting to the new normal of life with chemo.  And there are all sorts of good things to focus on.  For example, our neighbors are bringing us pizza tonight!!  Woo hoo!  Gotta love that!  I'll have an extra slice please!  We also had a good walk on the Edmonds waterfront where the mountains were out and people were everywhere enjoying the beautiful afternoon.  The only sad part was seeing a lonely, somewhat skinny seal pup sitting on the dock by the fishing pier.  We have seen him before, but he is losing weight.  I hope his mom didn't forget him.  Perhaps I will save a slice of pizza for him.

So, that's it for now.  Just wanting to give you an update.  As I said above: we are cheered by the shrinkage in the lymph nodes, but saddened about endless chemo.  Doc is going to tweak the pre-meds next time to mitigate some of the side effects of the chemo.  We feel blessed to have such a caring and attentive doctor.  Oh, and doubly blessed to have such wonderful caring people like you folks in our lives who are a constant source of support, encouragement, and prayers to Gabrielle and the rest of us.

Be good, and thanks for checking in.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2/4/16 Just a Tiny Seed of Faith!

Dear Friends and Family,

Hello dear ones!  Gabrielle here.  Time for a quick update.  Tomorrow at 1:30 PM is chemo number four.  I am gearing up mentally for a week of bad nausea and then off and on nausea and fatigue for the rest of the month.  But the good news is, the horrible cold and cough that had me down for two weeks is gone!  I will do my best to stay away from sick people this month and to wash my hands about 20 times a day to kill germs.  I will also do better at swishing with mouthwash or salt water each day to treat the mouth sores I’m getting from the chemo.  Now you must hold me to these goals!

Have you ever wished you could eat anything you want and not gain weight?  I have wished that probably a thousand times in my 55 years (56 on Feb. 18!).  Well, be careful what you wish for!  For some reason, starting last June, my thyroid, which has been traditionally low, has kicked into gear and gone sky high.  It affects my heart rhythm, my sleep, and, when not nauseous, I am starving and could eat six meals a day and not gain weight.  Weird!  Anyway, the cardiologist and endocrinologist have put me on five new pills a day to fix this.  So believe me—I would rather give up the five pills than be able to eat anything I want with impunity!

One of the biggest joys I’ve had this winter has been snowshoeing on days I have had energy and wasn’t nauseous.  The snow is so clean and bright.  It cheers me immensely to hear the soft crunch under my snowshoes and to look all around me at trees, mountains, birds, and white.  Enjoy a couple pictures below!

Another huge joy has been the meal train that my friend, Maribeth, started for us.  Twice a week people sign up to bring us meals and these meals replace the ones that I would normally cook for the family.  It is very difficult to cook dinner when you are nauseous.  It is hard to think of what to cook, to find the energy at the end of the day, and the smells—even with the fan on high—can be overwhelming on a sick stomach.  Our heartfelt thanks to those who have brought meals already and to those who will be bringing them soon!  And if you would like to sign up, there are some new slots to get us through my April chemo.  You can look at the food chart here:  http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=DTAK2098 Thank you!!!

Our pastor brought several pounds of mustard seeds to church on Sunday as she preached on Jesus’ parables, and of course, the one about faith.  I brought some home and look at them each day on my desk.  They are so tiny!  Much smaller than a grain of rice and not much bigger than a grain of sand.  The verse says “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt. 17:20

It’s hard to have faith you will be healed when your cancer keeps coming back.  So as I approach my first scan in this third cancer, on February 23, I am trying to replace my trepidation with faith as small as a mustard seed that I can be healed.  Just a tiny little bit of faith, I tell myself.  That's all I need.  Will you join me and find some mustard seed-size faith as well for my healing?  Or elephant-size faith is good too!

Either way, with a long or short life ahead of me, my devotional reading today said this:  “The best way to get through this day is step by step with Me.  Continue this intimate journey, trusting that the path you are following is headed for heaven.”  Amen, and amen!

Love and happy Valentine’s Day to you all!


Renee was so excited to grab her stocking off the mantle, she dropped the stocking holder onto my snowman stool and broke it! But good daughter that she is, she bought me a new one. :-)

This is me, snowshoeing at Icicle Creek in Leavenworth.

Steve, demonstrating how much snow we had in Leavenworth!

This is Daniel and me, snowshoeing at Gold Creek in Snoqualmie Pass.  

One of my greatest joys is babysitting Jericho one day a week.  He hasn't figured out how to push himself on this little car yet, so I pull him up and down the hall with a long shoelace attached!