We had two appointments on Wednesday, May 6. One was with the radiation oncologist and it was a follow-up for the radiation on Linda’s back about 6 weeks ago. The lump on her back that was radiated has shrunk, but unfortunately the pain has not gone away. In fact, the pain has probably gotten worse and it is now across her upper back and neck. The radiation doctor is a very kind and sympathetic man, and did his best to listen and offer any help he could. But he admitted that he really couldn’t offer her much help, if the radiation wasn’t too effective last time and if the pain she is experiencing is not in one particular area.
The second appointment was with the medical oncologist and she took the time to answer all the questions we had. Sometimes she seems to be in a rush and just wants to get the appointment over and done with, but that day she had the time for us and was even compassionate when Linda got upset at one point in the conversation. She reviewed Linda’s C/T scan from the previous week and said that most of the tumours have remained fairly stable and have not grown. This was positive news. But she was concerned about the fluid in her stomach (called “ascites”). Linda told her that she has been having discomfort in her stomach and feeling bloated. The oncologist ordered a procedure to have the fluid drained (to hopefully alleviate the discomfort) and at the same time take a sample of it to see if it is cancerous (this procedure happened on Wednesday, May 13 in Sudbury – more below).
At the appointment, we talked about the pain Linda is having in her back and how it has been constant. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot they can do about that – apart from the pain medication. This is just one of the daily struggles that Linda faces.
We talked about Linda’s last chemo IV infusion (April 17) and how she had an allergic reaction during the infusion and then how she had felt terrible afterwards, and hardly got out of bed for 5 days. Linda asked if she could please have a chemo break, and the oncologist agreed to it, because she had always mentioned it as being a possibility.
It was so nice for Linda to not have any chemo infusion on Friday, May 8 (her birthday) and no chemo pills for that 2-week period either. At this stage, the oncologist would like Linda to have part of her infusion on May 29 (the targeted therapy), God willing, and start the 2-week cycle of pills. But that could all change, because she would like to switch up Linda’s chemo regime (for a number of reasons). That might start sometime in June, but for at least a few weeks, Linda gets to have a break. Her body has had enough!
Linda’s birthday was on Friday, May 8 but we managed to stretch the birthday (and Mother’s Day) celebrations over 4 days. All along, we had planned to have something on Thursday night, because Friday was scheduled to be a chemo day for Linda. So Thursday night, Hadassah and Aunty Mary delivered a delicious dinner of Aussie burgers with all the toppings and layered pasta salad…and lemon meringue pie for dessert.
Then on Friday, we had a special breakfast for Linda and gave her her birthday presents – things for the garden and some treats and a book and a few homemade things. We also had a bunch of birthday cards that we had been collecting all week (and we are still getting a few) to give her. And so many Brothers and Sisters and friends dropped off flowers and presents and cards at the door on her birthday. Thank you to everyone who sent cards or stopped by with gifts – it was a very special day!
For dinner, Hadassah was kind enough to make us pizza (one of Linda’s favourites) and Tracey was kind enough to make us a beautiful “healthy” cake, delivered at about 8am that morning! During dinner, another surprise came when we had a knock on the door. We answered the door and Tim Styles was there, saying that there was a lot of people outside who wanted to wish Linda a happy birthday. Hadassah came around the corner of the house with a computer and there were hundreds of familiar faces on a Zoom call that sung “Happy Birthday” to Linda and said a quick hello. We said a quick “hello” and “thank you” to everyone. It all happened quickly and was a great surprise, but we were a little overwhelmed by all the faces and lost for words! Thankfully, the call was recorded so we could go back and watch the conversations before and after the surprise and pick out all the faces from all over the world. Thank you to Carolyn and Karly for organizing it, to all who helped out contacting people, to Tim and Dass for orchestrating it, and to everyone who joined in to sing and leave special messages. It was very touching near the end of the call to have some special messages from dear Sisters in Trinidad and Tobago (that know Dan well) and from dear Sisters in the Philippines (that know Linda well). We are blessed to have a family in Christ all across the world.
On Saturday night, my parents treated our family and the Styles family to take-out from the Grill and Chill – my parents called it another “birthday dinner” and it was a yummy treat! 🙂 And then on Sunday night, Aunty Mary and Uncle Dave delivered a delicious Mother’s Day dinner for Linda and my Mom. Then on Sunday evening Linda had a virtual birthday party on Zoom with just the girls (family and friends) from Ontario and Australia.
We were all feeling pretty spoiled by the end of the weekend, but it was a nice break for all of us and especially for Linda. She was able to forget for a few days about all the challenges at hand. She had a really fun weekend and even enjoyed some laughs, especially on Sunday night.
One more Birthday Celebration
One more celebration for Linda happened on Friday, May 15. It was more like a Sisters’ Tea than a celebration for Linda, but also an opportunity for Sisters from different parts of Ontario to connect on a Zoom call. Family and close friends of Linda’s reflected as they shared some Scripture meditations, some memories and some laughs. All of them have been touched by Linda’s example and it was a great way to encourage each other in these difficult times while we are separated from each other. Thank you to Carolyn for organizing this.
Linda had a procedure this past Wednesday, May 13 to remove the fluid on her stomach (paracentesis). We had a long and tiring day in Sudbury. Linda was at the hospital at 8:30am for blood work and prep before the procedure, but then waited until 12:30pm for the procedure to begin. A small tube was inserted into her stomach and then she was taken down to the cancer centre (connecting buildings), where the fluid was drained and she was monitored for the whole time. In total, 1.3 litres of fluid was removed and Linda feels relief from the discomfort and pressure in that area. She is obviously very tender in the area where the tube was inserted, but very thankful that the procedure is behind her.
To conclude, all we can say is thank you to everyone who is supporting us and praying for us. We appreciate it, especially the unexpected things that bring a bright spot to the day. And we thank our Heavenly Father for the strength He gives us – through His Word and through the example of His Son and through the support of each of you. It helps us to get through each day as we wait the promised day of healing, redemption, peace and blessings.
“We give thanks to God always for you all,
making mention of you in our prayers”
1 Thessalonians 1v2