Hope is the physician of each misery. ~Irish Proverb
Joanie continued to come out of each chemotherapy infusion without any major issues. She was doing so well, that she started going back to her office in the afternoons the day after the July 10th infusion, knowing that she now had until the 25th before they would start again.
We would also wait for that day with some anticipation, for they would also do a CT scan in the morning before they began cycle #3 of the Gemzar. We waited, as we always did, and did so without talking about what the scan might show, as if to talk about it would bring bad news. Joanie refused to give voice to any concerns she might have, and I never pressed.
She was working, and feeling good, and we were holding out hope that if nothing else, the cancer wasn’t growing.
Joanie had this reservoir of faith that fueled her spirit and gave her the hope that made her believe every day was going to be better, and she never wavered, even when the harsh reality of a radiologist’s notes, or an x-ray told her she was facing something which would require nothing short of a miracle to overcome.
That faith had been there for her so many times over the past 11 plus years, and she never doubted it would be there for her when she needed it most.
It was there for her on the 25th when we got the results of the scan. The notes from the radiologist said, “…there are multiple soft tissue masses with rib destruction noted…” The nodule in the left lung, which had been there for years, remained stable, but, “one of the masses as previously described looks to invade one of the dorsal vertebral bodies at the level of the carina. This too looks stable, unchanged, but compression on the cord would be a strong consideration.”
It took me some time to digest those few words, but after some time, and talking to to Dr. Thomas about it, I understood this. The carina is the area in the bronchial tube that is about where the T5 and T6 vertebra are. That is the area where the bronchial tube splits off between the right and left lung, and there was concern that there could be an invasion of the spinal canal which might result in paralysis. That much I had learned from earlier scans.
Joanie didn’t know any of this. All she knew at this point was that the chemotherapy was keeping the cancer at bay. The scan showed it hadn’t spread, and so far everything was stable. That was enough for her.
When we met with Dr. Thomas we went over the results, but Joanie didn’t seem to pay much attention to what he was telling us. All she wanted to do was get on with the infusion and get back to work. As far as she was concerned, the fact it hadn’t grown was proof enough for her that her faith and hope was paying off.
The weeks seemed to move more quickly now. Before we knew it, she had finished cycle #3, had a week off and finished cycle #4. That brought us to late August, and we weren’t scheduled to see Dr. Thomas until September 5th, at which time they would do another CT scan, to see where we were.
Joanie still had to deal with pain on her right side, but was taking Dilaudid, and it seemed to have it under control. The disturbing thing, at least to me, was that the pain wouldn’t go away completely. I finally figured out that the rib destruction was probably the culprit. There wasn’t much to do about it except rely on the pain killers to give her relief.
Joanie was keeping busy, and though she wouldn’t go in for full days all of the time, she made it to her office on more days than I thought she would. She was handling the chemotherapy really well. She was going to lunch with her friends during the week, walks with Betsy in the afternoons, and having coffee on Saturday mornings with her girl friends.
She continued to amaze, and delight me with her attitude, and there were days when it was as if cancer didn’t exist. Those were the days you need, especially when it has been around for so many years. Those were the days that help you keep some kind of perspective.
Those were the kind of days that kept hope alive, and helped keep you sane.