Friday, August 28, 2009

A little background on what we have learned about liver cancer

Most people, including us until recently, don't know much about liver cancer. Part of the reason for that is that it is a relatively rare form of cancer, and really has no early warning detection testing going on in general, unlike breast cancer, prostate cancer or colon cancer. The majority of people who do contract liver cancer are usually people that already have had some serious disease of the liver, such as hepatitis or psoriasis brought on from heavy drinking. Janice does not fit that profile, which makes her case an even rarer form of an already rare disease.

The mortality rate for people with liver cancer is very high, for two main reasons: 1) many of the people who get it were already very sick when they got it, and 2) by the time it actually shows up in your system, it has usually already spread to other parts of your body and can not be cured, which is what Stage Four cancer means.

Unfortunately for Janice, she falls into that second group. By the time they knew she had it at all, there were already small tumors in her lungs and spine, and a very large one in her liver.

How could that happen?? First of all, let me tell you that Janice is one of those people that goes in for a regular check up and blood test every year on her birthday (March 30) come hell or high water. And for the last 20 years or so, the only abnormality that has been present was an elevated AST reading in her liver. Not alarmingly high, but higher than normal. For the past several years, in addition to her standard tests, she has gotten a sonogram of her liver to make sure there were no signs of tumors, just to be extra proactive. In 2008, she was free and clear. In 2009, she was Stage Four. Liver cancer, once it starts, grows and moves very, very quickly.

Janice has always been a model patient, and she has a wonderful doctor as her GP that has always been proactive in looking out for things like this. We keep looking for some sort of an explanation-she is an artist, could it be caused by repeated exposure to chemicals like turpentine? No, we have no evidence to support that. She spent much of her childhood with her grandparents in a rural Arizona mining town near an open pit copper mine. Could that be it? They don't think so. The experts just don't have an explanation for it.

If it seems like it just isn't fair, it's because it isn't.


  1. hi janice:

    thank you for writing about your personal struggle and educating all of us about liver cancer. i think of you often and miss you. you and john are in our thoughts and prayers.

    carole and pete

  2. Janice--

    Jenny brought us up to date at book group last week. We were all shocked--We know you are always so proactive about your health. I send all my good vibes and well wishes to you and your family.

    Kathy Walker

  3. yet another life example of the randomness of our existence. what cruel irony is at work that causes our bodies to turn on us--especially in the ones who have the most exceptional minds and spirits? please know that both you both are in our thoughts (and rage?) these days. such art, such kindness and understanding, such joy of life. jill and i are actively sending funky, voodoo-scented good vibes your way from new orleans. let art be the salvation. it always is. -- josh

  4. janice
    I hope today is a wonderful day for you

  5. janice, i am thinking of you with love today. it was a joyous blessing to be able to see you yesterday. namaste, mamacita.

    love, caitlin

  6. Janice-

    Your love always shines through!!!! This passage reminds me so much of you. Keep your love shining!


    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not loved,
    I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
    If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
    and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not loved, I am nothing.
    If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
    but have not loved I gain nothing.
    Love is patient, love is kind.
    It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
    it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.
    For where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,
    they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away ...
    And now these things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
    - 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13

  7. Janice,
    Even for the short time we have known you, you have enriched our lives and made us smile. We thank you for your part in the artist's village as this is an awesome place to live. We keep you and your family in our hearts, minds, and prayers.
    Robin and Brian Christenson

  8. Janice, Jon and Katy Jo-
    Katy Jo sent out this link and with it news that Janice is not in pain. YEAH!! This website is a gift -- beautiful. Know that the "Sorrelli" in Seattle are thinking of all of you and holding you close to our hearts. XXXOOO - Patty

  9. You're in our thoughts and wishes-here at the Bowers.

  10. When we see the beauty of our own being we are seeing the beauty of the Being that is the One of which we are all a part. And when we turn towards that One, love is the natural reaction of the heart. God or Guru is an endless ocean of love truth and presence. First we may hear the distant roar of the crashing waves of the ocean and we're drawn to that sound. As we get closer, we can smell the ocean air and taste the sweet moisture. When we reach the beach and see the ocean for the first time, we're transfixed by the vastness and Beauty. We run and we dive in and enjoy the freedom that comes from this ecstasy. Finally we merge with that ocean of love and somehow find ourselves back on the shore, returning to ourselves so that we can share the experience with others. Those that have returned have given us these Names of God. These Names are the sound of the surf of that Ocean of Love. They hold the power to help us find our way back to that ocean. We don't have to create anything; we don't have to manufacture any emotions or feelings. We can't make it happen. It already is. All we have to do is Remember. Everyone has their own path to this beach, to the Ocean, but we all wind up in the same place. There is only one...One.
    Satsang is where people gather together to remember, to turn within and find their own inner path to the One. When we gather together to sing like this we are helping each other find our own paths. We all must travel this path by ourselves because each of us is our own path. All these paths wander on in their own way, but in truth we are all travelling together and until the last of us arrives we will all keep travelling. So let's sing!


  11. Janice
    We are thinking of you and praying for you. You have given much joy to so many - our prayer is that you would experience joy and peace in the midst of all of us. Know that you're thought of and loved.
    Chris, Kirsten, and Johann

  12. Janice,
    In our family we light a candle when someone is ill. Today I lit a candle for you and it will remain lit to send you love and peace from all of us.

  13. Dearest Janice, Jon & family ~
    Tonight our home is filled with thoughts of you...
    we are sending our love across the street & into your home.
    Warmest regards- Dan, Shirley, Cameron, Ruby, Fritzy & Sadie Tafoya

  14. Hi Janice,
    Diane tried to set up a blogger account so that she could write to you but the system wouldn't let her last night. She asked me to pass forward this to you:

    Dear Janice,
    I've been out of touch all these years since Art Center graduation and our move to Montana. But your inspiration has lived with me, especially when I work in my journals and sketchbooks. Please know that you are in my heart and prayers.
    Diane Teske Harris

  15. Hi Janice, I'll never forget our talks in San Diego shortly after your diagnosis. You were and are so brave, honest, open, accepting and calm. It was incredible. Well, I should say, YOU were incredible. I'm glad you guys started this blog. Dave forwarded the link to me and I've kept his email in my inbox so that I would remember to keep checking it, but mostly so that every time I saw it I would say a prayer for you guys here at my desk. Which is what I've been doing and will continue to do. Gail Newbold

  16. hey babe, I've been painting like crazy this month after a long absence. i must thank-you for this. you bringing your studio (studio- in relation to you this word doesn't begin to encompass all that it truly means) i'm sorry love, i am neither eloquinte nor much of a speller but the biggest lesson i learned from you is that as in life it is also in Art; there are no mistakes. i am stumbleing on my words and i hope this makes at least a little sense. thank-you for always sharing in the excitment of a new way to do something. thank-you for helping me paint again. this work i have been doing i have painted each day with alot of your love spilling into it. blessings and peace and always love nancy from the lofts

  17. For the last two nights I have been tossing and turning. Hoping you are not in pain. Trusting you are surrounded by love. Thinking of you & Jon and hoping that thoughts and prayers transmit to where you are.