The treatments have dwindled down, routine doctor visits continue, yet, Rose’s battle is not over. After 8 rounds of chemotherapy, Rose then endured 15 treatments of radiation to blast the tumors to death. We will not know if the tumors are dead or alive until the radiation and chemo have run their full course. This usually can be determined three months after the last treatments. For now, we are in a waiting period, which seems like an eternity.
Everyday that goes by is one day closer to the results. In the meantime, with the waiting, come the side effects. It was about two weeks after her last treatment when signs of the medicine and radiation started to appear. First came the aching of the bones, knees, joints, hands and feet. Second was the numbing fingertips, burning and tingly sensations of the hands. Third, the cough reappeared, getting stronger and stronger each day. So what did the doctors say and do? Well the radiologist blamed the chemo oncology for most of her symptoms. But the cough was due to the radiation treatments. Webbing appeared in Roses upper left lungs where the radiation caused inflammation; it is almost like scarring of the lungs.
How to help this go away or get better? Doctors prescribe steroids to help the inflammation ease. They cannot prescribe antibiotics because it is not an infection nor any other medicine will help. What do the steroids do? Well they make the patient feel a lot better when they really are not fully recovered. Her doctor explained it best by calling it a ghost medicine. She said it sort of helps everything feel better, but, “you need to be careful and not over do it as it is the medicine making you feel better not your physical health.” This drug makes it even harder for Rose to take it easy, as she likes to be productive and proactive in her everyday life.
The other side effects were caused by the chemo. The oncologist prescribed more medicine to treat the nerve pains of aches, burning and tingling, but they didn't help much, as Rose would stay awake throughout most of the nights because of the pain. After weeks of almost sleepless nights from the steroids and nerve medicines they finally gave Rose sleeping medication to help her sleep. She needs to rest and sleep in order for her body to heal. Each week Rose received multiple medicines to cope with the side effects hoping she will feel better. Whenever we thought she was finished with medicine, another 2 or 3 medicines are prescribed.
This week Rose was infected with pneumonia. Being that she is on a heavy steroid and multiple other medications, makes her prone to infections. She caught this airborne and luckily was diagnosed early enough to be treated. With the healing of the inflammation from the radiation there was a new cause for the coughing to continue. Rose now visits her doctors weekly with X-rays taken to monitor the inflammation and pneumonia in her lungs. If her pneumonia and inflammation subside she will slowly be able to ease off the steroid and other medications.
When we think everything is improving we are reminded that this is not a quick fix ,nor is this a minor sickness. This is a long battle, one with many fights. With each fight fought, we are challenged physically and mentally, making us stronger and stronger. I have to say that this is the hardest battle we have ever faced in our lives. The love and support from family and friends, including our miracle son Hayden, all make it possible for Rose and I to continue fighting and living. We are anticipating early March for Rose to have her PET scan which will determine if the tumors are dead or alive and whether further treatment will be needed or not.
Thank you for all your prayers and care you give towards our family and thank you to all who participated in The St. Peregrine Novena prayers this past month. I would like to end this with the Serenity Prayer.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will, that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with him forever in the next. Amen
Love the Mercier family in Thailand,
Rose, Christopher & Hayden