Kate and I just want to thank all of you who have been praying for us, sent healing or get well cards, made donations, or just thought about us kindly as we continue to work on healing the cancer imbalance inside of her. We are humbled by it all, and very grateful. We have seen that things are shaping up for the Site Nite benefit on our behalf (see below) scheduled for next Tuesday, October 2nd. (Our wedding anniversary, as it turns out.) Please understand that we are out of the loop entirely on its organization or execution and are unlikely to be there. We remain in Gratitude.
Today we find ourselves at yet another turning point, as a CT scan yesterday showed that the tumors in Kate’s belly have not responded at all to the rigorous chemotherapy. We won’t know for a few days if the cancer has possibly spread. The images also showed a bit more fluid around her lungs. This caused great concern to the radiologist there at Magee Women’s Hospital who relayed the news to her doctor. Orders were sent for us to go immediately to Shadyside Hospital, a place we had not yet been.
It was a surreal and almost comical moment when I was called back into the imaging center to find Kate, dressed in a hospital gown, socks, and baseball cap, surrounded by a circle of nurses in tense negotiation. As they apprised me of the situation, I insisted on talking with her doctor, who quickly called us back. He sheepishly said he had relied on the word of the radiologist that Kate was in “great distress” with respect to her breathing. I resisted the urge to speak for her, and instead looked over at her and asked if she was. She shook her head. “We drove her all the way over here from Burgettstown,” I said. “We’d feel better being somewhere they have her records and where you guys can easily get to her.” Her doctor laughed, and told us to come on over for her to be admitted through the ER. We spent the night apart.
This morning they drained 2 liters of that angry amber fluid from her chest. There is about one more in there they say, but as her lung expanded it caused what she called “the greatest pain I have ever felt in my life”. They had warned her that might happen, and stopped the procedure when she began to cough. Back in her room, she already feels much relieved and sounded good when I talked with her. The plan is to let her lung relax and reset itself and finish the procedure later.
Miraculously, she’s in good spirits and has gotten through three rounds of nasty chemo with very few side effects. That is hugely significant and showing us that something we and all of you are doing is supporting and helping her, but just not killing the cancer yet. The doctor is offering to try another kind of chemo, but has told us that he doesn’t really see that he has much to offer. We know that is only “one story” and shows the limitation of his resources.
That leads us to some kind of “Plan B”, but we really don’t know what that is just yet. We have seen and heard many stories of people who have beaten pancreatic cancer, but there is nothing that sticks out as the magic cure for her. We are grateful to all of you who have sent web links, phone numbers, doctors’ names, diet plans, or suggested the Cancer Centers of America. We are considering everything and listening to our intuition—resisting the urge to do it with “all our might”. We still see the need for an MD on board in case she needs pain relief or a hospital procedure. Ultimately, Kate will choose what to do next.
What we see is that more than one path still exists for Kate. Life and death are both on the table. This is confounding, yet still gives us hope that no doors are closed and healing can come in an instant. This points to a part of Divine Plan that has not yet been revealed. It still seems absurd to me that she would leave when our work together is so obviously unfinished. In moments of despair, I have tried to imagine what that would be like. I can’t.
Kate is being a real trooper about it all, and I am so proud of her. As we drove through the pouring rain from Pittsburgh back to Sewickley hospital during rush hour, we found ourselves at a starkly similar place to that rainy day in mid July when the cancer was first discovered. Kate pointed at the road ahead of us and made a reference to my image of “The Unknown” as a blank chalkboard: “I’m keeping my blackboard looking like that dark, shiny wet highway in front of us,” she said. “I’m doing my best not to write anything on it.” I promised to do the same.
I have posted a schedule for our beloved Mesa Creative Arts Center for October and November on our website. It was hard for me to remove her name from saved write-ups I pasted in from previous seasons, knowing that no matter what, she is unlikely to be there much this fall. I toyed with the idea of leaving it there just for its lovely energy, but didn’t want people to expect her to be teaching any particular class and be disappointed. We ask that everyone be patient with us if we have to cancel something at the last moment, or if you drive out to see us and find the gift shop closed. Remember that we are still thinking and praying about you, too.