In January of 2013, I wrote a blog about my friend Patty being diagnosed with breast cancer and having to talk to my kids about cancer and chemo. I am glad to say that everything went well. Patty had an awesome “I can beat this” attitude. She took everything in stride – even having a head-shaving party before her hair fell out due to the chemo.
My kids also took everything in stride – the hair loss, the occasional extra visits by their friends, and that they saw Patty less. (Of course seeing her less is easy when you typically only see her briefly 2-3 times a week.) Patty finished her chemo, had a mastectomy on one side and then did radiation. Everything went well and in September, she was declared cancer free. Her family celebrated by going to Disney World in October.
Then after Christmas, Patty began having really bad headaches. A trip to doctor didn’t help and was followed up by a trip to the ER and a visit to the neurologist. Both her CT scan and MRI showed nothing. Finally, on a second trip to the ER, they did a spinal tap to check for meningitis. While that is what they first said it was, Patty (by then admitted to the hospital) wasn’t feeling any better. They tested her spinal fluid and found cancer cells.
I looked up cancer cells in the spinal fluid on the Internet. I found only a few references to it, and none of the information was good. Patty and her husband (who hopefully didn’t research this on the Internet) are worried. Gone now is that “we can beat it” attitude. The day after the discovery of the cancer cells, Patty had a port put in her head and began chemo.
Right now, they are planning on doing chemo treatments for the next 4-6 months. The good news is that the cancer cells are all they found. There are no tumors. Whether this is significantly better or not, I don’t know.
I am worried about so many things. I am worried that Patty may not recover this time from cancer. It would be devastating for her kids. I can’t even imagine what would happen to the family with the loss of Patty and all the changes that would have to happen. I worry about them and of course, my own kids. This would be the first death my kids have had to experience and while they don’t see Patty often, they do see her husband, Bruce, and the twins all the time. I also worry about how Patty’s family is going to survive with Patty not working this month. She is the main bread winner of the family. Bruce stays home with the kids and has a part-time (under 25 hours a week) job doing inventory for one of the big-box stores. They can’t last long without her income. (Bruce has been missing a lot of work too.)
I guess only time will reveal what will happen next. If anyone knows anything about cancer cells in the spinal fluid – good or bad news – I would like to hear it. I would like to understand what is happening and what the chance of Patty pulling through this are. Until then, I will just pray for them and try to help out any way they will allow me to help. And I will be thankful that I am only having the cancer talk (again) with the kids so far.