A Complex Cancer Befitting a Complex Personality

Punch biopsy requiring 4 stiches

Punch biopsy requiring 4 stiches

When Carmen was first diagnosed, we were told that she had a very rare form of stomach cancer.  I guess it was fashionable to be unique and different.  Can’t have the same cancer as everyone else I suppose.  Imagine walking into a party and seen someone else with the same…

After the surgery we were very relieved and hopeful that she would be free from the outrageous pain she was experiencing.  We thought we would have a little respite from the past 8 weeks as we looked forward to her recovery from surgery.  To back up a bit, a few weeks prior to the surgery Carmen noticed a few bumps that began showing up in various parts of her body.  It looked like little irritations at first, then perhaps pimples.  But these were not pimples.  Immediately following surgery, one of these began to flair up, very rapidly.  If we concluded that these were not pimples or infections, then we guessed that they might be what we were hoping they weren’t going to be.  So while we were in the hospital I called around to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.  Truly never a dull moment with Carmen.

I had been looking online for any history of stomach cancer going to the skin.  Was this a different kind of cancer, perhaps skin cancer?  Or could it be the same signet ring featured adenocarcinoma that had spread to her ovaries from her stomach?  I distinctly remember her first oncologist assuring us that stomach cancer does not go to the skin.  I didn’t want to venture into thinking that this could be a new form of cancer.  But just as awful was the notion that this had manifested itself onto her skin.  Only way to find out was through a biopsy.  So here we are, 14 months after diagnosis, doing the same thing all over again.  Surgery, recovery, and appointments after appointments.  Deja Vu.

We went to a dermatologist in Manhattan Beach the following week to get this thing biopsied.  The doctor explained that the surgical excision would be a fairly simple procedure where he would just do a punch biopsy.  Basically a hollow little tube would excise the pimple like tumor, then have it analyzed at a lab in UCLA.   It would take about 5 days.  We were almost certain that it was cancer but the question was, what type.  So after 5 days the results came back positive for signet ring features.  Her cancer had spread to her skin.  Truly unique.

Forgot to mention that Audrey finally began walking when we were in the hospital.  Now she won’t stop.  Also she’s become very demanding.  The honeymoon period with her is officially over.  The sweet little baby we all knew is gone.  She has become belligerent especially (I guess only) when she’s hungry.  The problem is that she’s always hungry.

Carmen’s recover has been slow.  The pain from surgery is getting better, but it seemed to have stabilized, not getting worse, but not getting better.  The guess is that the nodules in her peritoneal cavity are giving her more pain than before.  We thought it might be due to the tumor’s vacancy, but that explanation should only go as far as a few weeks.  If that was the only cause of pain, it should be subsiding by now.  But the pain from her pelvic region is not subsiding.  She is also getting the full brunt of the side effects of the pain killers, the main one being nausea.  This, along with the tumor in her stomach, is preventing her from eating as well as she should.  Any recovery will require her to eat more causing me to become her food tyrant.  I’ve also become the Carmen whisperer.  Every time she feels like she has to throw up, I magically calm her down and prevent her.  The first time I used my whispering skills was that night after surgery.  She was about to throw up after eating a little broth.  I couldn’t imagine the pain that would envelope her if she were to throw up with those 30 staples in her belly.  So I calmed her down enough for her to relax her reflexes.

The other appointment post surgery was with the medical oncologist.  She recommended we wait a little to allow Carmen to heal from her surgery before getting her back on any chemo treatments.  At this point, we’re not sure what Protocel is doing, if anything, so we’ve decided to try the pill form Xeloda once again.  She had tolerated this drug fairly well.  The hope is that the removal of the 2 large tumors would allow her body to respond even better than before.  Was this cancer too aggressive for Protocel?  Or could it be working on the microscopic level to prevent floating cells from setting up shop in her organs?  She hasn’t had a scan in a few months so at this point we’re not sure how the insides look from a scan’s perspective.  Just trying anything and everything and hoping for the best.  The next steps for Carmen is getting her energy back up to where it was before and get her appetite back to normal.

Much gratitude to the friends and family that have imposed their will on us and invaded our privacy.  Thank you for taking this fight personally.

I know that God’s will is perfect.  His view of heaven and earth is something no one on earth will ever be able to grasp, at least not while we’re still here.  So taking someone home is of course a great thing.  However, as selfish as we are (or I am), I had wanted His will to be carried out on earth.  In my mind, heaven can wait.  I had been thinking about this for a while.  So it came as a pleasant surprise a few weeks ago when I saw a verse pop up in the Bible app.  That day’s Daily Verse was from Psalm 27:13, which reads “I remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  How specific is that?  Amen.