Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Battle - Winding Down...

We've been a little mum on Melinda's cancer battle front. Her last PET scans in June showed continued progression of the disease. She had some radiation therapy which helped relieve some of her back pain, caused by the tumors in her spine. The relief was short-lived, however, and her oncologist got permission for her to get Opdivo - the new miracle drug that works with the immune system. However it has not been approved for small-cell lung cancer and Medicare refused to cover it. More delays and finally Bristol-Meyers Squibb agreed to cover the costs and she was to start last Thursday.

But meanwhile, the cancer just was sapping her energy and one of the side effects of nearly any chemo is extreme fatigue, and she couldn't imagine another battle with chemo side effects. So when we consulted with the oncologist, she agreed that stopping treatment was a reasonable decision. She had fluid infusion to perk her up and we got a referral for a local hospice to assist with her care. So there we are - you are now up to date!

We've contacted family and our local circle of friends, so most everyone is aware of her decision. We signed on with hospice (Casa le la Luz - house of the light!), and instead of the Vicodin that we've been using (mostly effectively) to control her pain, we've moved to an alternative because of the toxic dose of acetaminophen she was getting. Her first night on liquid morphine drops went well, so that concern has passed. Hospice aims to keep the patient at home, so I'm here full time now taking care of her. Sister Maj is returning soon and will give some relief. At left from a week ago, Mia made herself at home on Melinda's lap while she napped. It seems to be where Mia wants to park, so lately we've been keeping her in her bedroom so as not to bother her...

While I've never seen her back away from this battle, she is just too exhausted to continue. We've always done what the oncologist had suggested, so she can't be faulted for finally getting a break. Three years and 5 weeks, spent fighting cancer every day is a long struggle and she deserves her rest. I'll keep you updated on any changes, but for now she is at home, with her beloved cats and friends around her. And she is at peace both with her decision, and with us to stop pressing her to continue the fight.

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