17 December 2008

My cancer diary – part 8

After having her brain tumours zapped things were looking up for Lynn. Then things suddenly went wrong. Andre updates us on the latest.

After having her brain tumours zapped things were looking up for Lynn. Then things suddenly went wrong. Andre (her husband) updates us on how she's doing. (Click here to read Lynn's previous email.)

Andre's email had the subject line: Lynn's anatomy – a cough and a splutter.

There we were with things generally going swimmingly. Chest radiation was done (nothing major there, other than some oddly placed sunburn), head radiation was done (not much there either, other than the promise of eight new bald spots), and we were about to start the second session of chemo. You may recall that the first session was mostly a non-event.

So we may be forgiven for thinking things were going to be much of the same. Figuratively speaking, we were in the home straight heading for the finish line in the distance with at least half a tank of fuel, and pretty decent tires. What could go wrong? (By the way, you should have realised by now that this is Andre and not Lynn writing.)

Turns out Lynn had a bit of a cough - very slight, more a shortness of breath - that started over the weekend. We ascribed this to the insidious effects of the ever-present cortisone and thought little of it.

Feels like the home stretch
Chemo started on Sunday night and by Monday Lynn’s shortness of breath was worse. We called the doc and he summoned us to have blood tests done. So, off we went to our home-away-from-home, Constantiaberg, for a quick donation of blood and a long wait for the results.

Finally the doc comes in with the results and announces "nothing serious" (he described a few very serious-sounding things that he thought it might have been). Diagnosis: most likely an infection in the lungs caused by the low immune system as a result of the chemo. Antibiotics, and we are off home again.

Tuesday comes and she is worse
By Wednesday we were starting to worry. We had a check-up with the brain doc that morning in town and when we got there Dr White seemed to completely forget that we were there to check on the brain surgery he had done a while back. In essence, he sent us packing back to our second home and told us to check in for a longish stay.

Beds and wards were duly organised and Lynn was booked in. A nurse came around to check on her “stats”, one of which is the “PulseOx” (Grey’s viewers will recognise this one). This is essentially the percentage of oxygen in your blood and should be above 90 percent.

Well Lynn was at 65 percent. A flurry of activity ensued and in no time Lynn was sporting an oxygen mask.

This is where things started getting a bit scary. Imagine you can breathe all you like, but cannot get enough oxygen into your lungs – I can only guess that it must feel like you are slowly drowning. To say that we were both a little concerned would be, well, a serious understatement.

Turns out the home straight is not a straight after all, but a chicane. The fuel gauge was lying and the tires were a bit smooth.

Well, these things are send to test us and we will get through this one too. But I do need to ask for lots of prayer for Lynn at this time.

It is now Sunday and there has been no significant change in her status. The doctors think it could be (as usual) one of three things. Either it’s a plain old infection that is not being cleared up quickly due to the effects of the chemo, or it’s a result of the chest tumours spreading, or (the current leading theory) it’s a bad reaction to the chest radiation.

Certain parts of the lungs were radiated during the chest radiation and there is a known condition where they have a bad reaction that presents like pneumonia. Again the healing of the lungs is being hampered by the chemo – sort of like shooting the firemen as they arrive to put out your burning house.

So again, if you could please pray for a speedy recovery for her. She is battling with this one and would appreciate the support. She can’t do visitors since she can’t really talk much (what with the oxygen mask and the shortness of breath), but prayer and support would be just fine.

I have left out some of the details so that she can include them in the next “official” update – she is so much better than me at this writing thing anyway.

Thank you all

(Andre Ferreira, 9 March, 2008)

Click here for Lynn's next message.

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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