These are the emails I sent to family and a few close friends when we were in the first week of discovering that Elizabeth had cancer.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I am writing because Elizabeth is in the hospital today, waiting to have a biopsy on a mass that is in her chest. She’s in great spirits, with a positive attitude and just mainly having a hard time waiting for results, and wanting to be home. She’s been having swelling in her upper body, and some pain, and for a few weeks no one could figure out what was going on, so it’s nice to have some of the mystery solved at least. We are grateful that Ann Marie (our family friend and Elizabeth’s integrative doctor) is close by to support us in this process. We don’t know what it is, though it’s about the size of her heart, and we are hoping that it’s a benign tumor that can easily be removed.
I am asking you to hold her in your prayers, asking for the most benevolent outcome, whatever will serve her soul’s highest purpose…
Elizabeth feels strongly that she doesn’t want people to be worrying and would like to keep all energy as positive as possible. Thank you!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
here’s the latest update – Elizabeth is scheduled for surgery tomorrow afternoon (Monday).
She asked that we all pray for a miracle, that the tumor be benign, that it be easily treated and removed. All prayers, love and good wishes are welcome!
Thank you thank you thank you.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
(to her acuptuncturist) Elizabeth has a large mass in her upper chest, right side, in front, wrapped around her vena cava. She was at UMC til Tues eve, after they did a biopsy and confirmed the diagnosis of lymphoma.
today she was supposed to have a port inserted, to start chemo tomorrow at the cancer center, working with Tom Miller (we haven’t met him yet but the Fellow who works with him, Ursa Brown, followed E at umc and she’s great – he’s supposed to be the best in the country for lymphoma, and there are some integrative oncologists there as well). they couldn’t do the port due to the location of the tumor, so had to do a picc line instead. she’s doing mostly really well, dealing with the pain ok, and emotionally mostly pretty well… with some meltdowns too. we’re all in shock and moving thru our emotions as best we can. I’m feeling my way thru how much to take care of her and how much to let her be independent, which is tricky. but she’s pretty clear about what she needs and so far i’m comfortable with supporting her in all those ways.
energy and prayers are welcome. i know there’s a naturopathic oncologist in town, but haven’t gotten that far yet. it feels like doing the first chemo is primary, and hopefully will give some relief from the symptoms, esp the swelling, and then i can begin researching complementary things. also our integrative md friend is working on those angles too…
Saturday, November 12, 2011
thanks so much for your emails, prayers and love.
It’s been a busy week, with lots of tests, iv access line placed, etc…Friday, yesterday, was packed: we met Elizabeth’s main doctor, and the final pathology report confirmed what they’d believed- “large B cell non-hodgkins lymphoma, mediastinal mass” which means a type of lymphoma that’s located in her mediastinal lymph node, right in the center of her chest. The mass is pressing on the a major vein, so she’s continuing to have lots of swelling in her face and neck, which is the hardest thing for her right now. The cancer is fast growing, but not spread anywhere else, both of which are good, as it is expected to respond well and quickly to the chemo medication. They did a bone marrow biopsy yesterday as well, but they are not expecting anything to show up there.
Elizabeth started chemo yesterday too, with lots of additional meds to help prevent side effects. They stopped partway through, as she had a slight reaction to one of the drugs, which is very common. Today she’s receiving it with no problem, sleeping deeply. She will receive treatment as an outpatient every 3 weeks, and we’ll see how she does with the side effects, hopefully she’ll feel great and be able to go to school.
Greg (Elizabeth’s father who lives in Berkeley) has been here since Weds and Elizabeth now has a really clean home, with food and clean laundry and filled with love. It’s been great to have his support for her.
I’m also so grateful for all Zelie (my partner) is doing – taking care of me, our animals and our home, as well as being with Elizabeth…