It has been a busy week and lots has happened much of it unexpected.
It started Sunday morning when Ann told me the bottoms of her feet had gone numb. A few hours later the numbness had crawled up her legs. A few more and it was at her hips. Next she had trouble standing and walking.
With the help of a neighbor I got Ann loaded into the car and we set of to the local ER. After a long wait she had a CT followed by an MRI. The result was that her T4 vertebrae had collapsed and ejected a large bone fragment into her spinal cord. By this time she was paralyzed from the waste down and headed into the OR for a spinal decompression.
Surgery went well but there was a worrying mass of inflammatory tissue surrounding what used to be the vertebra. Initially pathology in the OR identified it as "spindle cells" and me and her co-workers breathed a sigh of relief that this tissue wasn't cancer.
The next day in the hospital was different. Relief turned to panic as a second pathology read reported squamous cell carcinoma. I wouldn't believe it so I collected Ann's scans and tissue samples and drove them four hours to MD Anderson in Houston to personally place it in the hands of the Radiation Oncologist who treated her 8 weeks ago.
We all thought too many parts of the picture didn't make sense. No hypercalcimia, a previous history of osteopinea, a painful back muscle s couple of weeks ago while lifting something heavy and a lack of cancer in the originally treated area all seemed to point to a osteopenic back fracture brought on by prolonged exposure to chemotherapy. MDA seemed to agree and pointed out that it would takes big shift for Ann's original cancer to begin to metabolize fast enough to destroy bone, besides squamous cell was not known for metastases to bone. I left MDA that day with a promise from Ann's docs to find out what was going on
Unfortunately the next day we had our answer. It was cancer - same markers as the small tumor on her tongue, same as the tumors in her neck.
This is as bad as things get. So while Ann has regained some control over her legs now that the broken bone has been removed, as far as cancer goes there are no more silver bullets in the gun, no more space left on the margin. MDA says that this is treatable but not cure able.
In other words Ann is terminal.
Life expectancy is somewhere between 12 weeks and 18 months.
As you would expect this is incredibly hard. Both of us have been suffering anger, grief, sadness and fear for the future over the last couple of days.
Today we made something of a breakthrough in how we are going to deal with it. What we have come up with is a three part plan:
1- we will go back to MDA for about 10 days of targeted radiation and chemotherapy to try to kick the cancer back as far as we can.
2- we will then return home and I will get home health in to help Ann around the house with stuff she has trouble with and physically therapy to help her keep exercising her legs. We will spend all ther rest of our time screening movies, having dinners and fun with friends, family and neighbors. Most importantly we will have lots of love from our Kitties who are the light of Ann's life.
3- when Ann is ready we will find a hospice that will treat her with all the respect, kindness, dignity and gentleness she deserves.
Long time readers of the blog will be disappointed that we don't have a happier end to share. But this isn't a time for tears, or bitterness for what might have been. It's a time for savoring what we have together and how much we love each other and always will.
Everyone has to do this once and I am determined that I am going to make this the best it can possibly be for my Best Friend, Lover, Wife and above all Soul Mate. She will eternally be that beautiful woman I married on a hot June day on Bloody Bay.