(First, a shout out to John, who couldn't make it to the appointment yesterday due to a business trip. But he made his presence felt - all the way from New Orleans. Well played, John.)
Just a quick hit this morning. Highlights from yesterday's session:
It's too early to tell if immunotherapy is working. Ordinarily, Dr. McGaughey waits until a patient has completed four rounds of immunotherapy before he gets a scan. Given the highly aggressive nature of Abi's disease, he agreed to do one after only two to ensure that it hasn't "blown up." It hasn't, and in fact, looks mostly stable (again!).
Dr. McGaughey seemed very encouraged by how our girl was feeling. For the first time in I don't know how many appointments, Abi described her pain level as "zero." Her weight has, in fact, stabilized, at least compared to her appointment three weeks ago.
There are some things that we're watching. Some of her blood labs were a little wanky, and there's new spot on her scan that may (or may not) indicate new growth. We're monitoring those things, and will take action as appropriate.
But overall, yesterday's appointment was pretty good, and it seems clear that Abi continues to defy expectations. In fact, it was probably the best we could have hoped for at this point in her regimen, and I continue to believe that we're witnessing an ongoing miracle...every single bonus day. And on this bonus day, Dr. McGaughey said he was "always optimistic."
Last February, when we received the news that changed everything, Dr. McGaughey also told us he is "always optimistic." If I"m honest, it was really hard to hear for me. It sounded like:
"Yes, I know just told you that cancer will almost certainly take your daughter's life. I told you that Abi's form of cancer is particularly aggressive, and even if chemo works, it's very likely to return...and pretty quickly, at that. And the data says that her one year life expectancy is fifty percent. I've been doing this for a long time, and I still hate giving families this news. But here we are.
But you know what?
I'm always optimistic.*"
Yesterday I reminded him of that conversation. I asked him if this was the same "always optimistic" as it was last February.
This time, it's more than his normal optimistic disposition (which, by the way, we have grown to appreciate so much). He's optimistic because of the way Abi feels. Because of the way she's reacted to the first couple of rounds of treatment. Because her weight is stable.Because the nausea has subsided and her pain is down (even if they haven't gone away completely). Because she's smiling more freely. Because she's joking with him in the examination room.
And I love that there are tangible reasons for optimism. That we may get a good report six weeks from now, when we're sitting with Dr. McGaughey looking at a PET scan that will tell us what's happening in her body.
But I don't want that optimism to blind me to the moments that will present themselves today.
Today, Abi and John will be heading to Charlottesville for a weekend with Lizzie and Jonathan. They'll be staying in the country - Abi and John's special place. Maybe going to Gabrielle Rausse Winery. Maybe they'll find out there's trivia at Pro Re Nata, and they'll absolutely dominate. Maybe they'll just hang out in the cabin and Abi and Lizzie will tell John and Jonathon stories about cramming all of the cousins into a tiny bunk room in Oak Island, about the haunted house in the Poconos, or a thousand other stories that they've already told a thousand times.
And there's a good chance that Abi's back will feel okay. That she'll be hungry. And that she'll sleep in the arms of her husband for five consecutive hours.
What could be better than that?
* I'm on slightly thin ice here. I know better than to talk smack about Abi's oncologist. It wouldn't end well for me.
Please know how much we love Dr. McGaughey. How much we love that he found Two Flounders, and spent some time reading it. How much we love that he sometimes tears up when Abi and John get personal with him during Abi's appointments. How much we love that he told us about Donny at Trespass. That he gave Abi time to address the VOA board. That he's considering donating some time to First Descents. That he shares his hiking and fishing adventures with us.
And that he's always optimistic.