Well, the journey continues and with it decisions made and decisions yet to come. Diane has been off of chemo for over three weeks and her energy is definitely coming back. She and Andrew get out to local parks on those days I am working and even last Saturday she was able to do three loads of cloths. I know that sounds mundane, but what a gift to have the energy to do that work.
We are in the process of considering checking out other options such as Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and also naturopathic options. But Diane will not go back on chemo, and we are also making plans on a road trip to Minnesota starting on June 7th. That is one of the goals and meaning of “quality of life” for her.
This afternoon Andrew, Peter, Paulie, DianeMarie and I all crowded into a small doctor’s office. The end result is that for the next three weeks Diane will not have chemo and then we will meet with the oncologist again to determine what the next step might be. Our hope is that Diane will regain strength and that she will be able to let her body fight this dreaded enemy cancer. But for now we will wait and see and pray.
The past ten days have been a tremendously challenging, emotional furnace. On Friday, May 2nd we had an appointment with DianeMarie’s oncologist and during that visit he suggested that we allow him to make an appointment with a palliative care doctor. This came as a total surprise, and we simply said, “OK.” On May 8th we again had an appointment with the oncologist before Diane began her third cycle of chemo. In this appointment we asked him, “Why is it that you are suggesting that we see a palliative care doctor at this time?” His response startled us: “Research has shown that those who are involved in the palliative care process, tend to take less chemo treatments, they tend to live longer, and they tend to have a higher quality of life.” That was from our oncologist.
On May 9th Andrew, Peter, Diane and I met with Dr. Beecher, a palliative care doctor. His task, first of all, was to make sure that Diane understands what is happening to her in term of the cancer and in terms of the expected, terminal end of the cancer. He then asked questions and made a few suggestions about medication that Diane was taking and about possible other meds that might help Diane have a better appetite.
Most of the time dealt with questions about Diane’s expectations or goals that she has for her life within the framework of having cancer. He asked questions and then we began to ask questions about whether chemo therapy allows Diane to experience life in the ways that she desires. Even though the present cancer markers have decreased, that does not change the fact that Diane has Stage IV cancer which is terminal. Though the cancer markers are down, what is the price that Diane is paying? Diane’s stamina or energy continues to decline, as does her weight. She has no energy for anything.
Each person has a different definition of “quality of life,” and for Diane that means the best “possible” interaction with family and loved ones. It also means that she is able to serve others in ways that be available for her. At this point, Diane (as does the family) feels that her quality of life is being robbed by the side affects of the chemo. So Diane Marie, with the full support of myself and our family, has decided to go off of chemo therapy. On Wednesday, May 14th we meet with Dr. Dennie, her oncologist, who will continue to help us understand what this decision means and the implications of that decision. There is so much that we do not understand, but Diane Marie is right by saying “This decision is a game changer!”