My mother's cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) has reared its ugly head yet again.
She was first diagnosed with it in the Spring of 1995. At that time, her doctors told her that her prognosis was 10-15 years (this is a slow cancer), but also that this particular lymphoma is incurable. The one glimmer of hope was the knowledge that much research was being done on this particular form of lymphoma, and since the prognosis was long, it was possible that a cure might be found within my mother's lifetime. She began treatment at the National Institute for Health, and we all felt quite hopeful that if she could continue to participate in clinical trials there, she would receive the cutting edge of care and be able to take advantage of the latest in research.
It has been 14 years, and now, with this latest recurrence of the lymphoma, her doctors at NIH told her that the best treatment for the new tumor is the "standard of care" rather than the experimental alternative (which carries with it severe side effects, some of which might be permanent). NIH does not administer the "standard of care" treatments, and so they've referred my mother to another oncologist, who practices out of another hospital. This is quite a blow for my mother because she has come to feel very safe at NIH. Not only does NIH offer an "above-and-beyond" level of care, but over the years my mother has come to know and love her nurses very well; also, since my mother's diagnosis, my youngest sister went to nursing school and then took a job as an oncology nurse at NIH, so my parents had an advocate on the inside.
Chemotherapy is never easy, but many of the experimental therapies that my mom was able to take advantage of while at NIH had much milder side effects than your typical chemotherapy. This has been a long and exhausting road for my mother. Please remember her in your prayers as she begins this new adventure at a strange hospital, with a new doctor. I promise to do a better job of letting you know the results of this particular round of treatment. The problem is that not only does the treatment require many weeks, but then discovering the results often requires another wait of many weeks after treatment has ended.
My mom's name is Judy, by the way.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Dumbstruck by the Mystery
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."