The last six months, have been a full six months. Full of awesome highs (nearly no evidence of disease, and starting a maintenance drug), and full of valley lows (losing one of my closest new friends to this awful disease). After Christmas, my blood counts were so low, that I thought I was going to die (literally). I never have felt so close to death as I did between Christmas and New Years. I even started to write letters to my children regarding how I wanted to be remembered by them. I had consistent bloody noses that would take hours to stop up. I eventually went into the hospital, and got some blood. I was counting down the infusions until the end of Gemzar and Cisplatin– the beginning of February.
In February, my sister-in-law and nephews came out for a visit. Colorado was not kind to them. My youngest nephew started throwing up before the trip, and my eldest nephew, who has Type I Diabetes got food poisoning towards the end. The poor child couldn’t get out of bed. I was running a fever, had a cough, and felt generally shitty. I knew since my counts were low, it would take forever to recover from my cold, which ended up being Influenza A (found that out after my son caught it). After we both got over the flu, we ended up going to Snow Mountain Ranch (YMCA of the Rockies), and rented a nice secluded cabin in the woods. I still was not up to skiing, and hung out mostly in the lodge.
In March we found ourselves back at Disney World and visiting my mom for Spring Break and Easter. I did not bring my camera then, but I have a ton of beautiful iPhone pictures of Disney. When we returned to Colorado it was time to trek up to Denver and see Dr. Corr at UCH Aurora campus. We found out that my CA-125 had increased to over 600! Since my symptoms coincided with a possible aneurysm, I was given an emergency CT Scan. I did end up getting my Avastin infusion (maintenance drug), and the next day found out that my two spots had turned into 5 spots with the largest on my rectum. On April 7th, I signed the paperwork to start a clinical trial.
I made several trips to and from Denver to participate in the clinical trial. I had a CT scan, a brain MRI, a biopsy, and more vials of blood drawn than one could imagine. By the time I began the trial my CA-125 was over 900. The clinical trial is a immunotherapy drug called Durvalumab and a vaccine therapy (immune system booster) called IPH2202. The Durvalumab is supposed to highlight a protein to the immune system in the cancer, and IPH2202 is supposed increase my bodies immune reaction. So far the side effects are very minimal, and I feel great.
As of today, I have had two infusions. I have no increase of cancer symptoms (the symptoms have remained stable– no increase is a very good sign, as I have not had chemotherapy in over 4 months!), I have good energy, and I feel wonderful. In two days I will be embarking on a photography adventure road trip, and I will be documenting it photographically and on my blog!
We are traveling to the Grand Canyon. I will be witnessing the a sunrise over the Grand Canyon. After that, we will be traveling to Las Vegas. Where I will be photographing the strip, going to the fountain show at the Bellagio, and the pirate show. I, of course, will play a few games of chance ;). From there I will be heading on Rt 66 to California. I have never been on the West Coast. We will be in Malibu, at Disneyland, visiting an old friend from our time at Vilseck/Rose Barracks, and then trying to see a few stars :D. Then from LA, we will be driving north along the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco (some of the highway is closed, but I’ll see enough of it. From San Fran, we will travel northward to the Redwood National Forest, where the Ewoks live :). Finally, we travel back east going through Oregon, Nevada, and Utah to the Arches National Park, and back home. My goal is to master the manual setting on my camera.
Cancer has given me a new appreciation for life. It is hard to know that one day I will die from this disease and follow the path of my sisters before me. Life is fleeting…
Rest In Peace:
Leigh Reel English (Liver Cancer)
Song of the Post: “I’ll Stand By You” Rachel Platten