Jon here. I thought it would be good to fill you in on the path cancer has taken us on for the past six months. Perhaps some of our experiences will be helpful to you or someone you love someday.
We received the grim news about Janice's cancer on April 8, 2009. Stage 4, not curable, life expectancy of somewhere between 6 months and 18 months. At that time, they told us that the next 3 or 4 months would be the most "normal" months Janice would have. After that, more and more symptoms would start to show. They also wanted to begin chemotherapy treatments immediately.
It's an interesting crossroads. Do you use those precious 3 or 4 months of "normal" health to travel and have fun, or do you use them to try and extend her life as close to the 18 month mark as possible? Certainly she would have the best chance of a good response to treatment when she was at her healthiest and strongest. But the side effects make you, essentially, very sick.
We decided that each treatment option would be carefully looked at, with the potential pluses weighed very carefully with the minuses. We ultimately decided to go with a very new and cutting edge form of chemotherapy using the drug Nexovar. This is a chemo pill that is taken twice a day, and is very targeted specifically at treating the liver. If it works well, it can reduce the size of the large tumor in her liver, as well as keep the smaller tumors in her lungs and spine from growing as fast. Side effects are pretty much like regular chemo, but not quite as severe. We decided the effort was worth the reward, and started it right away.
She had a lot of nausea, lost a bunch of hair, had horrible sores in her mouth and felt like crap a lot of the time. But she's a trooper, and in general her body accepted the drug well and we were still able to be pretty functional.
We kept it up until mid July and her doctor told us that although it had done quite a lot of good in reducing her main tumor and keeping the others at bay, it was no longer effective and he wanted us to consider moving to a more invasive and serious form of treatment called chemoimobolization. It would take a couple of weeks to get all of that set up with the surgeons and insurance.
We looked at that two week window and asked him if it would be OK for us to take a trip to Scotland. Fortunately for us, he thought it was a great idea, but encouraged us not to stay any longer than the two weeks and to please hurry back. We booked our flight that same day.