17 December 2008

My cancer diary – part 12

Lynn may be feeling fabulous, but after her three-month check up the news is not good. She shares her story with Health24.

Lynn may be feeling fabulous, but after her three-month check up the news is not good.

Lynn sent the following mail on August 28, 2008. It had the subject line "Lynn's Anatomy: Season 3 premiere"

Well you know the old adage that no news is good news? It’s so true! And, seeing as you are hearing from me again, it means that there is news…

On the up side, I came off my cortisone meds about 6 weeks ago and I’ve been shrinking slowly but surely, and I haven’t ended up looking wrinkly like I thought I might! Our bodies really are incredible. So, the face is returning to normal, I’ve lost the hairy sideburns (which thankfully were always very light) and you can actually see my eyes and mouth.

I’m looking and feeling much more like me. In fact, I’m feeling fabulous! I’ve been going to gym, working from home (which is such a blessing) and generally doing extraordinarily well.

Two weeks ago I had to go for my “3 month check up” and I told Doc Wilson how truly fabulous I was feeling. So he said that’s great – we’ll send you for a chest xray to check out your lungs and then we’ll see you in another 3 months!

Andre asked him how we’d know how the ‘chesties’ were doing and he said the only way was to do another PET scan as it can’t be picked up on ordinary xray. So we thought - well, shouldn’t we have one done? And Doc Wilson says, “yes I suppose so, but what if the PET picks up something else? What are we going to do about it?”

Well, SOMETHING I thought! Bloody hell.

So he wrote a very nice letter to the medical aid, and being such a fabulous medical aid they authorized the scan and we went last week.

Going for the scan
I was feeling a little anxious about this scan, but along we went and the place was really busy. There was an older lady there who was so sweet. She was having a scan as she had developed two cancer spots on her liver and they wanted a better look.

Anyway, results came back and they picked up some more little buggers in my liver and lung. At first I thought they might have got my scan confused with the lovely little old lady before me, but unfortunately not! A bit of a bummer wot!

I’m going for a liver biopsy via ultrasound next week (just have to get my blood thick again) for them to make sure that it’s melanoma and not liver cancer (highly unlikely) as it would affect the treatment options.

At the moment, treatment options are a little limited – and those that there are don’t seem to be all THAT effective. Essentially, because the cancer has spread now to a 3rd and 4th site, surgery becomes a little pointless as liver surgery in particular is apparently quite MAJOR, and it’s spread to another site already and chances are it will again.

Because of the spreading, the best course of action is to treat it systemically, ie. chemo. There are two types of chemo that they use for melanoma – the one I had before which doc now thinks I’m allergic to and which is why I had those lung events – and the other one I can still try. However, as I’m feeling so well, he thinks we should hold out on that for when (and IF) I start feeling worse as this would also make me feel better.

A new therapy
In the meantime, I’m going to go on an immune boosting therapy called Interferon. There is apparently some link between melanoma and your immune system which they don’t really understand they just know there is a link. So the idea is to boost my immune system to slow the progress of the disease. Unfortunately when it gets to this stage it’s not considered curable so we’ve just got to make the best of it and see how we can slow it down.

The Interferon comes in self-administering injections. Doc says it won’t be sore… so I said “no, I’m sure it won’t be – until I hit Andre over the head because he’s pricked me”. Haven’t got them yet, but I’ll let you know.

So how am I feeling?
How am I feeling about all this? There’s a part of me that’s really sad - we always knew this was a possibility, but I really didn’t expect it so soon. And particularly as I’m truly feeling so well. There’s another part of me that gets quite excited about what God is going to do next. I was so blessed in all sorts of big and small ways the first time round that I can’t wait to see what He does next.

The Sunday before the test we had this excellent session at church which was all about having faith – particularly when things aren’t going the way you want or expect them to. In those times, we need to know, believe and say that we serve the one true God, and that even if the situation doesn’t turn out like we expect, our God is still in control. I didn’t expect to get tested on that one quite so soon, but there you go.

Andre has been his normal amazing self and is convinced that God is at work. His support, wisdom, faith and strength are just incredible. We told the girls that they found some “lurgies” on my liver and lung, but haven’t really said more than that. What more is there to say really?

My mom and dad are soldiering bravely on, but they and my sister are taking huge strain, which is only to be expected. It’s just so wonderful to have them here with us now though. Please just keep praying for all of us.

And in other news
Well the exciting news is that my sister, Penny, and my niece, Lauren, arrived two weeks ago too. Pen is here to have her 6 weeks of radiation treatment. While it’s TOTALLY FABULOUS having both of them here, it’s really hard on Penny and Gary being so far apart for so long as they miss each other terribly. At least here Pen has all of us for company (in fact she may wish for some peace and quiet every now and then) while Gary’s whole family is away from him so please pray for them too.

Three weeks ago (it’s been an eventful month…clearly) Pen finally got the results from her mastectomy tissue. They analysed it to identify which type of breast cancer she had. She has what’s called the HER-2 positive type of breast cancer which is not the worst kind (that would be triple negative apparently), but it’s still pretty yugh.

The problem with this type of breast cancer is that it is very aggressive and likes to metastasize (i.e. spring up in other parts of the body). The very good news, however, is that in recent years they’ve developed this amazing drug called Herceptin which improves chances dramatically. It’s moerse expensive (like over R25K a pop and she needs 17 of them), and so now we just have to pray that her medical insurance will cover it. They are a really good insurance though so it should be covered, but we don’t have confirmation yet.

Penny started her radiation treatment yesterday. She went for the planning scan last week and they gave her three tattoos – teeny tiny little blue ink dots like I had, but tats nonetheless! They have also drawn all over her with blue koki that she’s not allowed to wash off for 6 weeks! Good thing it’s not summer.

Speaking of which, Pen wanted to send Lauren for some swimming lessons while they’re here and as Lolly is still so young, someone has to be in the pool with her. Pen was all gung-ho the first time and wanted to get some lessons in before she started her treatment as she can’t get in the pool then.

So, she went to the gym the first day (and it was even sunny outside) and nearly froze her butt off. Water was a far cry from the tepid temperature she is used to in Dubai. The next time she went it was even cold outside and she got into the pool with her beanie on! Of course, Lolly loves it and doesn’t mind the cold water at all. In fact it’s quite a struggle to get her out. I think my sis is secretly relieved that my mom will be taking over the swimming lessons for now.

And as for Lolly – well she is just gorgeous! I wish I could say she looked just like me but in fact, she is the very best combination of Penny and Gary. She has these insanely long eyelashes and huge expressive eyes, and the cutest dimples when she smiles and laughs. My only complaint is that she’s not very free and easy with the kisses when it comes to me… maybe because I demand so many, but she is quite edible.

Well that’s all my news for now. Needless to say, lots of prayers will be gratefully appreciated.

Lots of love

- (Lynn Ferreira, August 28, 2008)

Read more:
My cancer diary - part 1
My cancer diary - part 2
My cancer diary - part 3
My cancer diary - part 4
My cancer diary - part 5
My cancer diary - part 6
My cancer diary - part 7
My cancer diary - part 8
My cancer diary - part 9
My cancer diary - part 10
My cancer diary - part 11
My cancer diary - part 12
My cancer diary - part 13
My cancer diary - part 14
My cancer diary - part 15

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