The triple feature of this past week was a series of consecutive visits from three powerful and beautiful women, Red Rock friends for nearly fifty years. First a long and delicious catch-up heart-to-heart with Kathy (McDonald) Ball last Saturday and Sunday. Kathy was in Ottawa to visit her aunt Marguerite, who is also negotiating with bone metastases (hers, from a yet-to-be-confirmed primary cancer). She’s the one just to my left, above, in the white tank and pushed-back sunglasses. Next, the arrival of Gloria Nacinovic on Monday. Gloria came expressly to look after us, and did so with gusto till Thursday; accompanying me to radiation sessions, feeding us delicious stuffed pasta, spanakopita, soup, and salad; taking me and Lafayette both out for daily walks (Laf made it further than me!); and also sitting with me for several heart-to-hearts. Gloria’s in the front row, right, in the blue tank and big smile. Last but not least, a visit yesterday from Caroline Kennedy and her partner Diane, in town to see nephews and nieces and on their way to ski and spa the Laurentians. Caroline’s the redhead in red, unaccountably holding a wine glass (!) second from the left above.
There were also nice visits with Dayna and Morgan, from the office, and with Beth and Craig. More people looking after us and feeding us so well.
These fabulous women, and other wonderful women and men, made this past week somewhat more tolerable. I thought I had gone through the worst of the pain flares over the weekend of March 7-8, after the first two radiation treatments. The pain flared a few more times Monday through Wednesday during the course of the latter three RTs. Wednesday night was not good: little sleep, a lot of pain, and 8 breakthrough pills taken. Thursday morning, after five more breakthrough pain killers, gentle physio, and a drop-off of Gloria to the airport, the pain really took off. I suppose it was the writhing, rocking back and forth, and moaning, that led Regis to insist that we go to Emergency.
I was concerned, because the pain medication had softened the pain in the radiation sites on my right hip, but I had a throbbing, spiking pain on my left side. My initial worry was whether there was a new metastases, stones, or infection in my left kidney. I feel quite protective of the remaining left kidney. Thus, a two hour wait to be seen; subcutaneous pain injections; blood and urine test; and a further three hour wait for CT scan.
The good news: nothing is wrong with my left kidney. Nothing showed up there on the scan; my creatinine, calcium, and white blood cell levels are all good. No infection, no stones, no inflammation. whew.
The not-good news: the right ilium metastasis has increases in size; the associated soft tissue mass as well. [the radiology report, as usual, provides no numeric details – increase by 1 cm? 10?-hopefully, more info forthcoming]. I did understand that the purpose of radiation was to reduce pain, not necessarily ‘kill’ the metastasis, but hoped that it would also do so by halting its growth. I also understood that response rate of bone metastases to Sutent is not guaranteed (the only study I found gave a RR of 48%), but again was hoping the one-two punch of radiation + Sutent since my last scan January 29 would have at least halted the growth of this dude.
So, a step down from grieving the goodbye to running, to gratitude that I am still able at this point to walk, albeit with the use of a walker. I know at some point I may face the destruction of the hip/pelvic bone and resulting immobility. It’s a wonderful thing, to be able to move around, sit up, visit with friends, eat good food.
Oh, and do radio! Absent my usual co-host, it didn’t feel right to run the St Urho’s Day program. Instead, a celebration of the imagination and creativity of Daevid Allen of Gong, whose lung cancer led him to depart this world this past Friday. Here’s a link to the program, should you care to explore: http://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/410/21221.html