This, my friends, is the blog post that I have been dreading writing for a long, long time.
To make it quick like a bandaid, the MRI was not good. Profoundly not good.
The MRI showed, much like it has each time we've had an emergency MRI after a quick and swift decrease in her mobility, that the cancer has leaped forward past all the therapies, and become more aggressive.
To be succinct: The cancer has now spread aggressively into her spinal column, and is now past the point of any possible therapies.
We looked at the MRI in an office with Dr. Robertson and Marcia, and there was significant growth all along the spinal column. To quote Dr. Robertson, the MRI looked like her spine had been dipped in sugar. The dye makes the cancerous cells become far more prominent in the image, and the prominence was easy to see.
(Here's a picture of Amie to make this 1% less depressing)
So what does that mean from here on out?
All the rest of the therapies that we do will be palliative in nature, and not therapeutic.
Google will tell us: pal·li·a·tive <ˈpalēˌādiv,ˈpalēədiv/>; adjective
1. (of a treatment or medicine) relieving pain or alleviating a problem without dealing with the underlying cause. "short-term, palliative measures had been taken"
synonyms: soothing, alleviating, sedative, calmative; for the terminally ill
We are going to start a course of cranial-spinal radiation on Friday. This will dramatically lower her counts, destroy her bone marrow, and cause increased nausea. But they believe it will also dramatically decrease the pain levels she will be feeling as the cancerous cells are attacking the nerve cells in the spine, as well as increase muscle functions in her legs over the next weeks (and months?).
We also started her on a steroid tonight that could help with some quality of life issues. They aren't sure that it will help, but it was believed to help before, and she tolerated the steroids quite well last time.
Some of you are saying…what the hell? The tumor shrunk in the last MRI! What the hell is going on?
In short, that’s how aggressive this cancer is that Amie has. It went from getting knocked around, to colonizing the spine in just a little over two weeks.
I could make a comparison here about how we were Oberyn Martell, gloating over the downed body of Gregor Clegane…but that might just be a bit overstepping my bounds, and a little much. But I will say that yes, we were positive as of the last MRI.
They can’t say what’s going to happen specifically, as the radiation could help more than they're expecting, but it's not a positive prognosis. At all.
My personality at this point wants to start cracking jokes, to make all of you feel better, because that's what we've learned to do, make others feel better about all of this.
My Dad always says that's crap, and I don't need to spend any time making other people feel more comfortable with the fact that my daughter has cancer, and that if people feel sad that's not my job to make it better. But, to me, it is. I have all the time in the world to come to terms with this life, and her prognosis. I have some serious callouses built up against it. I can look at it in the face and only cry a little. But for people who do not have a situation like this going on, it's like standing above a slab of molten steel (I've done that too. Courtesy of said Father).... it's extremely unpleasant, and causes you to quickly want to move along.
But I think me cracking jokes, making people feel better, somehow makes me feel....less burdened by it all. I have no idea how. I've always read about the British habit of "taking the piss" out of someone and something, in the sense that you make fun of someone/take them down a few pegs if they're getting above themselves. I kind of feel like making jokes about the cancer, about the terminal nature of it, about the whole freaking endeavor is just part of me taking the piss out of cancer....removing some of it's power over me, in thinking that it can destroy me.
Sure....it's going to destroy parts of me, and hopefully fertilize others. That's what really awful things do to you. I got divorced 14 years ago (actually 11.11.00), and it destroyed me...but I never would have been a teacher if that hadn't happened. I never would have had the stamina and drive to re-do so many of my classes to get there.
Here's the girl pile from tonight. 2% less depressing now!
I'm heading into work tomorrow.
Shelley is going to stay at home and play with Amie tomorrow.
Anya is going to school tomorrow.
We're going to start radiation on Friday.
We're going to play it by ear from here on out.
At some point, when things look like they're moving towards the end, I'm going to stop working.
At some point, we are probably going to pull Anya out of school for a while.
At some point, Amelie is going to die.
But before all of that, we're going to do exactly what we've been doing for the last two years....enjoy every single last stinking moment that we've got her...and go from there.
Sound good folks?