Editors’ Note 5/27/22: Since the posting of this blog, April has undergone another paracentesis. Doctors have removed more than 7 liters/14 Lbs of fluid from April’s abdomen during the two procedures. And still her abdomen continues to swell. April returned home on May 27 because we can duplicate the care that she was receiving in the hospital through prescription medicines and outpatient paracentesis procedures. The days ahead will be long and hard. Their outcome is anything but certain. But April is home. We rejoice in small mercies.
The last few weeks have unnerved us.
What started as a race to avoid a week or two of inconvenient breast cancer symptoms has become a race for April’s very life.
As many of you know, April went into the hospital on Monday, May 16 because of some slight bloating which evidence the very early stages of liver failure. The visit proved to be more precautionary than essential to her care. Given the slight deterioration of her liver and quality of life, her medical team decided to respond more aggressively to her new breast cancer growth. They abandoned the Xeloda chemo pill during that hospital stay and began giving her the IV Chemo drug gemcitabine. After her first receiving her first dose on Wednesday May 18, April was discharged from the hospital. We still believed we had an upper hand.
This Week and Today
By the following Sunday, May 22, I was sneaking out of church early and running April back to the ED because she had spiked a high fever. Guessing that she had an infection (a suspicion that was empirically proven today and that is being successfully treated), the ER doctor admitted her to the hospital on Sunday night. While receiving antibiotics for the infection, April’s abdomen continued to swell to the point that she took on the appearance of a full-term pregnant woman. The other day, a well-meaning cleaning lady clumsily asked April, “You, have baby?” We chuckled at the thought. But alas, she faces something far more serious. The abdominal swelling (which has caused her so much pain over the last 48 hrs.) and her high bilirubin numbers has indicated that her liver is failing and could fail.
Though the doctors can and have performed and will continue to perform a procedure called paracentesis which removed 3.25 liters of fluid from April’s body and reduced her level of discomfort on Tuesday, May 24, her abdomen has already returned to pregnancy size as of this writing of the post on Wednesday, May 25. To cure her liver and to reverses the symptoms associated with her poor liver function, her medical team must find a medication that will shrink her tumors and not further aggravate the compromise state of her liver. This afternoon, April switched to her third treatment plan in as many weeks and received the first dose of the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin (happily nicknamed the red devil). She will take the IV chemo drug weekly. If all goes well, her liver function will begin to improve over the next 2-3 weeks, and she should be discharged from the hospital this weekend. If her breast cancer tumors do not respond or do not respond quickly enough, her liver will fail. Her race will end.
Though the stakes have been raised, April possesses a great desire even in the midst of great pain to keep running this race. As she said earlier today, “I never thought I would say this, but I want to start chemo.” She wants to embrace drugs that will punish her stomach, cause hair loss, and possibly damage her heart. Though exhausted, scarred, and worn, onward she goes…onward all of us go along with her in hopes of a better tomorrow. And yet the reality of the moment is not lost on either of us. Either the chemo will destroy the tumors, or the tumors will destroy her liver. The next days and weeks will prove decisive.
How to pray
Our prayer today is simple, “Lord help us.” Pray for God to restore April’s liver. Pray for us, our children, and our families to find our hope in the things above….in the steadfast love and faithfulness of our God and father. The days are long, hard, and unsettling, yet are God is good, loving, and powerful. May God be merciful us.
Please note, we long to responded to all texts and messages. But with the many challenges facing us, our responses will probably be increasingly slow.
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