Last Friday marked Abi's completion of her fourth round of meetings with Nila. It's been a good week.
Before I get into the medical stuff, let me lead with this. Abi's spirits are high. She's been open to, and even embraced the change in perspective that has accompanied her diagnosis.
Abi would tell you she understands she has far more discretion over how she spends her time and energy than she ever previously imagined. She'd tell you she's always had it, but only now realizes it.
Abi would tell you that she better understands what is truly important (giving love freely, and openly accepting love; eating popcorn with friends; watching Moana with Kylie; long talks with John; helping people in pain; community; maintaining an active thankful list; walking in the rain; playing tug, or walking on the beach with Bindi; reconnecting with old friends; outliving it...you get the picture, and you should definitely click on the link).
And I will tell you. I see a woman with the growing courage to spend her time and energy on what she knows is truly important.
Does that take courage? I think it does. It's risky business, and it comes at a cost.
Onto the medical stuff
Treatment week came at the perfect time.
As I mentioned last week, pain had started creeping into Abi's back again, and the treatments, as they tend to do, immediately relieved that pain.
Additionally, the doctors changed one of her drugs prior to the last round. The new drug, while proven equally effective, tends to have less severe side effects. It certainly did for our girl. The nausea was far more manageable. The original drug was beginning to have an effect on Abi's hearing, and the switch to the new drug immediately improved that problem. Abi even seemed less fatigued than she did for the first few rounds.
All of which is to say, our girl, once again, came through last week's meetings with Nila feeling strong and well.
Abi also had a good meeting with Dr. McGaughey.
He was able to clarify some of his previous observations on why her tumor isn't being as responsive to treatment as anticipated. He addressed the possibility of tissue sampling errors during the original KI-67 test, and took some time to explain why the drugs Abi is getting tend to work better against more aggressive tumors. He suggested, again, that Abi's may not be acting like the aggressive cancer we know it to be, at least in terms of it's response to the treatment. Of course, the follow on questions are, "why not?", and "what does that mean going forward?". Unfortunately, we don't have those answers yet.
But Dr. McGaughey reaffirmed his confidence in the current plan of action in the short term. Specifically, our girl will get her next scan in a couple of weeks, and assuming that the illness is still being held at bay (or better yet, starting to retreat), we'll continue for two more treatments, then reevaluate. In the meantime, we're continuing to explore options for follow on treatment, as required.
All of which is to say, that medically speaking, we continue to be in a wait-and-see mode. While we may not be getting rid of the disease as quickly as we'd hoped, clinically, at least, Abi seems to be stable (or better). We're hopeful the next rounds of scans will show more progress than the first, and that they help to better illuminate the right path after we wrap up this series of treatments later this summer.
One final note: Last night, Abi learned she was accepted for the 2017 First Descents Program.
I wish you (Abi's) courage.