Every year since we were married my wife (who is a brilliant cook) has made hot cross buns in Good Friday morning. Today I suggested I make them instead (this is because my wife is in stage 4 of liver cancer, the second course of Chemo has not worked and she is really ill). Do you think I did the right thing? Apparently not. I was given a severe talking to this morning. Apparently my offer was a real insult to my wife. Apart from not being a good enough cook to manage the task (which may well be true, but I do make a mean pizza dough!) the offer was deeply insulting. You gotta laugh!
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My wife was diagnosed with liver metastases (secondary liver cancer) in June last year she was told it was stage 4 (terminal). Her original brush was with bowel/colon cancer in 2006. She had a resection (part of her bowel taken out) and we were told they had got all of it and it was unlikely to reappear. She had annual colonoscopy checkups just to make sure. In 2008 a lump was found in one of her breasts. She had a lumpectomy and a lymph node removed and Chemo and Radiation treatment followed. She lost all her hair, which really upset her, but it grew back. Again we were told because it had been caught early that it was unlikely to reappear. The advice was far too sanguine. It was when she went for her annual colonoscopy in May 2011 that alarm bells started to ring. She had a violent reaction to drinking the prep they give her. Her GP also noticed she was retaining fluid and sent her for an X-ray which revealed an enlarged liver. She was referred back to a medical oncologist at Canberra Hospital who had been seeing her every 6 months or so. An urgent CT scan and blood tests revealed the worst: stage 4 Liver Cancer and her liver functions were dropping. Her oncologist wanted to admit her that day but there were no beds available in the oncology ward. We ended up going private in order to get immediate treatment. There was initial confusion over whether the primary cancer was breast (which is more virulent) or bowel/colon. They were going to start the treatment with the assumption it was breast but at the last moment the biopsy came back indicating Bowel Cancer as the primary. Treatment was delayed for a day when they got in the right chemo drugs from interstate. Those two weeks were the worst of my life as my wife fought the combined effects of the cancer, chemo and a failing liver. She survived but it was a close run thing as she drifted in and out of consciousness punctuated by hallucinations (failing livers play havoc with electrolyte levels on the blood) and high fevers. Chemo proper started soon after she had recovered. She was on a three weekly cycle and the CEA tumor markers showed a steady decline for 6 months. The side effects were pretty awful however with violent sweating and slowly developing neuropathy in her hands and feet. The worst thing however was that the dying liver tumors gave rise to regular bouts of infection (at least this was the eventual diagnosis) that would necessitate a week-long stay in hospital on an antibiotic drip. My wife’s general health however improved slowly, so much so she was able to return to work part-time by last September. This has a marked psychological effect on her and up until last December she was in better spirits and enjoying better health than at anytime since May 2011. Then in December 2011 (just in time to ruin Christmas) we learnt the tumor markers had risen slightly. The chemo was coming to an end anyway and in January there was a discussion about switching to one of three new treatments (Folfiri + Avastin, Folfiri + Centuxumab, or possibly Sirtex Spheres). The advise was to go with the first and hold the SIR Spheres in reserve. That is what my wife decided to do. The new Chemo has not worked. It knocked around her white blood cells (resistance to infection) so much that each cycle had to be delayed by a week and the tumor markers, after showing an initial decline, have shot up again. On Monday this week the decision was made to stop the chemo (she was too anemic anyway) and to have an angiogram and MAA scan to see if she is suitable for the SIR Spheres treatment. As part of assessment I had to gather together copies of my wife’s two most recent CT scans (one from Jan 2012 and Monday this week). She had the angiogram and MAA scan on Thursday and I took them along. After reviewing the material and doing the angiogram (but before the MAA) the specialist ‘s whole attitude seemed to change. He seemed much more reserved and cautious. We are still waiting on a decision but as we left I was given the CT scan discs and the report on the angiogram. The envelopes were now unsealed and being a naturally curious person I looked at the contents. Perhaps that was a mistake. I was horrified by what I learnt. The Jan 2012 CT scan report, which we have never seen and has never been discussed with us, noted that the liver tumors had increased in size. Some of them are over 10cm x 8cm. But the worst comment was that there were 5cm nodules in both lungs and that they were likely to be cancers. This is complete news to me. The CT she had on Monday confirmed the January report and said that the sizes were if anything larger. The angiogram report said tumors filled 80% of one side of the liver and 60% of the other. How could the tumors have become so big so quickly? I will make sure my wife does not see these reports but I don’t understand why the dire nature of the findings were not conveyed to us in some shape or form back in Jsnuary. To say I am distressed by all of this puts in mildly. My wife’s oncologist did not cause the cancer but Gee I wish she had kept her eye on the ball more than she appears to have done. What a stuff up. You gotta laugh!
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Not being fond of cooking ,I am only insulted when I come home from my night dance class to find a baked dinner waiting. He loves my baked dinners and I've told hom to ask whenever he wants one. Still he goes ahead, when I'm doing something else , and cooks them . I was kidding,as I was only insulted the first few times. Now I just say thanks and enjoy it. I'm pretty easy going ,I suppose . Most women seem to like cooking . Have a happy Easter.
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