Yesterday our girl finished up another series of meetings with Nila.
But let's start with last week, and fill in some of the gaps from our last couple of entries.
Last Wednesday, we met with Dr. McGaughey first thing in the morning - but we didn't have the scan results at that point. (Due to delays in insurance authorization, Abi wasn't able to get her scan until late last Tuesday afternoon, and the radiologist simply didn't have time to review them and write up his final report prior to Abi's appointment.)
Dr. McGaughey was waiting for the radiologist to return his call, but we pressed on with the appointment. Medically/clinically - it was largely uneventful. No fever. Good blood pressure. Pain level 2 (as it seems to be for every appointment with Dr. McGaughey.) A little discussion about the results of the ultrasound, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And as we always do, we spent a little personal time with the doctor. (We almost always have a personal question loaded up for Dr. McGaughey, and in my view, that little gesture has helped to strengthen our connection to Abi's team captain. I think he's picked up on that, and recently turned the tables on us, asking personal, and completely non-medical questions when we meet with him.)
Anyway - he sent Abi over to the treatment room to do some of the preliminary round six (plus three) workups, in anticipation of another relatively stable scan result. Abi got hooked up to the pump, and while she was receiving her first (non-chemo) medication, Dr. McGaughey came in.
The radiologist reported some progression in the disease. The information was very general in nature, all based on a phone conversation as we had neither the radiologist's final report nor the images themselves. But given the plan all along had been to ride with chemo until there was progression, we made the immediate decision not to proceed with treatment that day, and prepare for immunotherapy.
Nila got Abi unhooked, and gave her a tearful hug on the way out of the treatment room.
Nila is wonderful, but a tearful hug was WAY out of the ordinary for her. Never happened before, and Abi later told me that Nila's hug was the thing that told her this was serious.
So Abi and John spent the next few hours doing the paperwork necessary to start the immunotherapy, registering for participation in trials, etc.. The immunotherapy machine was rolling, and we anticipated starting as soon as humanly possible.
Until Abi got a call from Dr. McGaughey later that afternoon.
He had seen the scans and had the radiologist's final report. He was "underwhelmed by the progression," and he wanted to pump the brakes on immunotherapy to give the team time to sort things out. He set up a meeting with Abi on Thursday (even though he was supposed to be in the hospital that day - and not the office.)
Thursday morning, Dr. McGaughey lay out his rationale for surgical removal of the lone site that was showing signs of growth, and continuing the chemotherapy regimen. It wasn't a slam dunk case for surgery. He was pretty clear that Abi's condition is extremely unusual, and that there's truly no guidebook for how to treat her particular disease - especially given the somewhat ambiguous results of the latest scan.
But he convinced us all. In my view, the one thing that sealed the deal was that it would allow our girl to continue with the same team she's been working with for the last six months, rather than transitioning to the doctor in charge of trials at VOA. She loves Dr. McGaughey and Nila especially.
Dr. McGaughey walked us up to his colleague's office suite, gave him a rundown on what we were dealing with, and made sure he would see Abi that morning.
A few minutes later, we're meeting with Dr. McCollum, and by the time we've wrapped that up, Abi is scheduled for surgery on the 28th.
It was whirlwind 30 hours.
After a bit of rest over the weekend (and an incredible birthday/Christmas dinner on Sunday), our girl was back at it Monday, and has spent the past three days getting chemo.
Not sure how many folks have stuck with me this far (TLDR!), but I think it was important to share the amount of stuff that's transpired over the past seven days, and the range of emotions that Abi and John have experienced.
I don't always dive into the details here, but sometimes I need to remind myself that this is heady stuff for anybody.
But how much more so for a couple of twenty-somethings that expected to be living the life of newlyweds - discovering what each other like to eat for dinner and what they look like in the morning, watching bad television shows in bed, learning the marriage dance (and deciding who gets to lead and when), playing rummy by the pool, decorating their home, visiting friends, and being fully immersed in the joys and (normal) challenges of their first year of marriage.
And here they are. Graceful. Somehow rolling with it. Incredibly.
Loving each other, and those around them, all the while.
Yesterday Abi wrapped up her latest series of meetings with Nila.
And, of course, our girl gave her a hug on the way out.