Early in December, I wrote about the difficult news we received via the patient portal, at 7:09 pm Thanksgiving Eve. We processed a lot of emotions. Hope wasn’t one of those emotions. HP and I surrendered into the awareness that his cancer had crossed the blood brain barrier and was now doing its incessant thing in almost all lobes of his brain.
Intellectually, we knew it was time to begin down the path of getting our things in order. Well, we talked about it, anyway. We didn’t really do anything about it. We knew that would be our first priority after we got our emotions together. Looking back, we remained in a daze until we started our trek to Houston. I found my way to the space of surrender and back into the arms of my best invisible friend, “Flo”. That’s what I do when I’m not in control.
On December 5, HP, Martine and I went to the Denver airport together. She introduced us to an awesome, healthy restaurant at the airport, Root Down. The airport restaurant is a scaled down version of the one in downtown Denver. It was a nice, healthy way to begin a tough week at the Cancer Center in Houston where we would learn about whole brain radiation. We traveled with questions in our mind and possible options. One option was to just say no. To let life and cancer unfold, doing our best to hang on to quality of life as long as possible. One option was to quiet the mind, and just listen. Once I had all my questions written down, that was an easy option for me.
Prior to 7:09 pm Thanksgiving Eve, HP was feeling very good, emotionally and physically. The cancer center had eliminated his Opdivo-induced colitis. He was gaining weight. With each day of recovery, he was returning to the good health he experienced on our road trip. That’s all I was wishing for, for us to get back to feeling the way we did on our road trip. Saying no to whole brain radiation, perhaps, was one ounce of control we could exercise in order to hang onto quality of life. We were prepared to not budge from our mantra, quality of life.
Our Cancer Center visits began with a talk with the radiation doctor. Wow, we were very impressed. I jokingly said that if there is one doctor you want to have knock your socks off, it’s the brain radiation doctor. She convinced us no was not an option. As that discussion was winding down, we asked if she had seen the results of his liquid biopsy. She said she had not and attempted to look it up. For some reason, she nor we were able to access the results (remember the blog about the elusive biopsy results?). The results remained elusive. And, then, the radiation doctor said something that perked us up. She said, “the results could be a game-changer”, and from her expression and tone, I knew it was a possible good game changer. She left the room. Because we didn’t know what she was eluding to exactly, Martine, HP and I went back into the mode of processing the decision of whole brain radiation. We agreed it needed to be a reluctant yes.
The next person we saw was the nurse to take vitals. She mentioned that the pharmacist was coming in next. This was a new one for us as the planned lineup was to see the oncologist first. After the nurse left, we looked at each other and I asked, “did she say the pharmacist is coming in?” “Why the pharmacist?” It seemed a bit out of order for the lineup. HP and Martine didn’t register this as I did, so I quickly and easily convinced myself I had misheard the nurse.
In a few minutes, the pharmacist yes indeed arrived. She was ending her shift soon, so she was inserted into the lineup to tell us about the new drug HP would be going on. It was either mentally or out loud, I truly don’t remember, I said “whoa whoa whoa”. What new drug?” She said his liquid biopsy gave them the info they needed and HP qualified for a new chemo in pill form. “So does this mean he will be on chemo and whole brain radiation?” She said no, that the drug affects the cancer in the brain and in his body. No whole brain radiation? Correct, no whole brain radiation. This was breaking news. The decision of the medical team quickly turned from brain radiation to a daily pill. The elusive biopsy turned up the marker we needed! We knew no was an option. We just thought it was our option. We just didn’t anticipate no being their option.
Next, the PA came in. I honestly have no memory of her discussion.
It’s now about 4 or 5 pm. Next, the oncologist came in. She was all smiles. She had on the cutest cowgirl boots, and she and her boots were walking on air. There wasn’t much left to discuss after radiology, pharmacy and PA. We had our miracle.
The 3 of us walked back to the hotel. I asked HP what he was feeling. He said he was still processing. Due to the crazy traffic in Houston at 5:30 pm, we walked back attentively and quietly. We got back to the room, HP and I hugged each other and he said, “this is f*ing unbelievable.” We now know from this experience that miracles are blankety blank unbelievable, unpredictable, and are not to be controlled. They “Flo” in on their own timeline.
Fast forward, HP has been on the miracle drug, Tagrisso, for one month. He heads back to Houston tomorrow for his first post miracle checkup. He is having a few side effects, but nothing like the side effects of previous treatments. For now, we continue to bask in the afterglow of the miracle that unfolded ever so profoundly.
We send this with much love. Hope for quality time together has returned. This has been ___ unbelievable, and we are so very happy.