Help My Angel, Lois, Beat Cancer!
My Angel and Life-Love, Lois, and I have been together for 40 years, and have always been completely and totally inseparable. In late February 2017, Lois was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer, after she started experiencing what we first thought was appendicitis. A CT scan revealed a large (3 inch) mass where the small intestine joins the large intestine (and right next to the appendix).
Subsequent scans have confirmed that there are additional tumors lining the abdominal cavity, but gratefully, not affecting any of the other major organs (liver, kidneys, lungs are clean).
Lois is now undergoing her first chemotherapy treatment. Our oncologist anticipates a 4 month chemo program, with treatment every other week to shrink the cancer as much as possible. After that, major surgery (HIPAC) to clear out the abdominal cavity (removing the colon, appendix, and other linings), recovery, and then another 2 months of a different chemo. In all, we are anticipating between 8 to 10 months for this to take place.
There is strong belief from the oncology team that a cure is possible, and is what we're aimed at. With guidance from her team, we also hope to augment this with holistic and naturopath approaches to help boost her immune system as it will be weakened by the chemo.
As an independent, self-employed photography team, we will not be able to work, or only do so at a minimum as we direct our energy and efforts toward Lois' healing. We are asking for support during this difficult time of transition to cover our basic life necessities and restore Lois' health. When possible, we hope to take on commercial assignments (product shots, architectural, branding, etc.) as time and energy allow.
As her husband and life-love, my immediate and ongoing focus is to provide as much of a positive and healing environment as I possibly can, so that Lois can focus on what it takes to beat this. Lois is extremely strong, upbeat and indomitable, and believes that we will overcome this. I continue to build and nurture her in all ways, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and we both are extremely appreciative of the help, love, and encouragement from the dear people in our lives.
Thank you all for your support.
Hi everyone. A couple of quick notes for you.
We have a work opportunity that I wanted to share and invite folks in the greater Seattle region to join in. This coming Saturday (Aug 24) we will be offering outdoor portraiture for our friends in the dog/animal world.
The kind folks at Family Dog Training Center, in conjunction with the spectacular location and people at Donida Farms Equestrian Center (Auburn) have put this shoot together to help us work-wise, as well as to capture family memories (both dogs and humans – if they’re well-behaved) as our main focus.
Most of you know we absolutely love our time with animals, so this is a rather rare opportunity, especially as we’re now close to resuming all the treatments (starting on Aug 30th, we’re back in the radiation and then chemo cycle for a long time to come).
For more info and appointments, please email Family Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call them at 253.854.9663.
This will likely be our last substantial work opportunity for a while, so if you can share this forward, and/or join us, we’d deeply appreciate this!
For today, we have our next medical procedure: Mapping out the blood supplies to the remaining active tumors in Lois’ liver. To do this, they will puncture the femoral artery just below the groin, thread a catheter up into the liver and release a mildly radio-active dye for the two regions revealed in the most recent CTSCAN. Then, they will wheel my darling into a separate room, where she has to hold still for another hour or more as they take photos to get an accurate big picture of how her anatomy’s laid out.
In particular, where most folks have only one or two blood vessels in the region, she has 10!
The risks are these: if any of the radioactive treatment material, Y-90 get out of the liver, it will cause permanent, untreatable ulcers (only the liver can handle this form of radiation). Most of the blood vessels lead directly from the liver back to the stomach, so tremendous care and planning are needed – that’s what today is all about.
Y-90 (Yttrium 90) is a radioactive isotope that comes in the form of microscopic “beads”, each about the same size as a red blood cell. So, literally, millions of these are pumped through the blood vessels to reach the tumors. Each bead has a “working” radius of about 1/10 of an inch, and a half-life of about 65 hours. (A half-life is how long it takes for the amount of radioactivity to drop 50% in strength). So, in reality, Y-90’s immediate potency is around 11 or 12 days, roughly. However, it actually keeps working for about 3 months.
My Baby is wonderfully strong mentally and in spirit, and she deserves a HUGE round of extra love and support as she continues to go through all this with a big smile on her face. She never fails to just amaze me with who she is.
Anniversary Celebration and then medical update…
YES!!! We just celebrated our wonderful 36th Anniversary. My brilliant, wonderful, charming, amazing, incredibly beautiful and marvelously strong Angel has tolerated me for 36 years, legally. And really, 42 ½, since that’s when “we” became a we. (Winter of ’77). How fortunate am I?????
The day was quiet, not a lot of energy nor finances to go out do crazy. Instead, we had a wonderful time up in La Conner (one of our favorite towns, kind of like Cannon Beach, but without the ocean that we need to see again so badly).
Dinner, courtesy of a kind gift from someone, was at a local steak and seafood house, and was just… sweet.
And for a few moments, we went outside just after midnight to catch a few of the Perseids (meteor shower). I managed to see at least one fabulous streak, even though there was a lot of competition from an almost-full Moon.
Medically, things are quiet, but for only a short time more. We were scheduled for the Y-90 mapping procedure on Aug 5 (visual angiogram). But for a variety of reasons, this was postponed by 2 weeks.
We arrived, got prepped, had IV and all the other tubes, needles, and EKG things hooked up. All looked ready to go, until our doctor came in, and explained the complications.
First – one of the liver tumors previously treated still shows some remaining activity. Not so good, and needing another zap. The good news – the very first (and largest) liver tumor looks like it’s toast. Because it was nicely concentrated, they were able to give it a “super-dose” and that worked.
The second tumor was more spread out, presenting a more challenging target, and radiation with less intensity, hence a part of that that’s still alive.
Second, the remaining large spot in the liver has continued to grow, aggressively. So, while radiation is the answer for it, Lois has some unusual anatomical features making this quite a bit more challenging.
Specifically, most people have 2 or 3 large blood vessels going into this region, and she has 10!!! The complications are significant. About half of these lead directly to the stomach. Since Y-90 can *only* be tolerated by the liver, if that stuff gets out, it will create permanent, very painful untreatable ulcers. So, great care is needed here.
Additionally, the machines needed for imaging these areas were down (both the main, and the backup) so the day turned into a prep, wait, and “never mind”.
We’ll try again on the 19th.
In the meantime, I also asked the doctor about the “common knowledge” that livers are able to regenerate. I was hoping that, over time, the treated areas that are dead tissue would eventually be replace by healthy liver tissue.
Not the case. In order for livers to grow back, they need to receive a “shock”, to stimulate this. Surgery, cutting, will do that. But radiation – not at all. A question I have since thought of – would it make sense to go in and cut the areas that have been killed off. But, I fear the answer is the same reason why they didn’t go in and surgically remove the areas in the first place: Because there’s cancer in other parts of her gut, that prevents surgery from being an option. Part of the concern is that they don’t want my Baby having to go 3+ months recovering from major surgery, only to allow the other spots unchecked growth (can’t do chemo then).
So, current plans are Mapping (Aug 19), Y-90 Treatment (Aug 30, tentatively), and then back to Chemo+Avastin 2 weeks later, for an indefinite time.
Finally, food intake continues to be the most challenging issue on our day-to-day lives. Nothing tastes good (not even things that appeared to be solutions for us earlier). Virtually all forms of protein (beef, pork, seafood, bird), and protein shakes are close to off the table for my darling. The tastes are a challenge, and her stomach feels pretty yucky after eating. And this is with a month since the last chemo treatment.
Her weight is slowly dropping, as is her energy. Just a slow fading.
I’m actively looking for new sauces that can help make foods more palatable, or just tolerable.
And, actively looking for a reliable hypnotist (something we know nothing about) to see if that could be a helpful channel.
In the meantime, we continue with the medical marijuana and meditation, and try to stay active.
I’ll have one more update in another day or so, on an different topic, as this has gotten a bit long.
Thank you all for your support, love, and encouragement. We appreciate this, and certainly need it!!!
This past Friday afternoon gave us a bit of news: No chemo until around September 1st! On Aug 5, we have another mapping procedure (visual angiogram) of the 3rd tumor in Lois’ liver.
Then, on the 19th, the actual treatment – more Y-90 radiation, and then recovery for 2 weeks before returning to chemo + Avastin.
I asked our oncologist about the liver’s ability to regenerate, and if that is something to expect in our case. Unfortunately, the answer was a strong “NO”. Once an area of the liver has been hit with radiation, it’s dead, and no hope of that region growing back. So, that also means we can’t continue getting new liver treatments indefinitely if new tumors show up. What does happen is that the surrounding tissue takes up the load and tends to overproduce in terms of the liver’s functionality.
But, for the time being, we have a month of NO CHEMO!!!!
This also means – we are actively seeking work in the short-term while we can! If you’ve been contemplating headshots/professional portraiture, or product images, please visit our site (newly re-minted!!!) at www.jerryandlois.com and see if there’s a fit to what you have in mind.
I asked my sweetheart when we got the news, what she was planning to do today.
Her answer, “Be Happy”!
And THAT’S my Darling, right there!!!!!
MUCH NEEDED FUN!!!
Over the past weekend, Lois felt strong enough to spend time with friends we haven’t seen in 3 years: On Saturday we dropped in to visit our family in the dog community that we’ve missed tremendously. Catching a local Agility trial, we saw so many friends (furry as well as people), and had such a marvelous, and totally UP day!!! Lots of love and homecoming!!!! That filled up some buckets.
We went in on Monday expecting the next round of chemo, which ended up being postponed for good reasons. And more importantly, results from last week’s CTSCAN and the labs from super early Monday morning.
FROM THE SCAN - a mixed bag…
The GREAT news: The two large livers in the tumor actually have shrunk a little since the last scan just prior to the two radiation treatments!!!!!! We had been told that these wouldn’t like change in shape, just a different shade of grey, so that visually it would be hard to tell what was going on. Similar to my coral reef analogy, even when the actual animals are dead, the reef remains.
The NOT SO GREAT news: The 3rd spot in the liver has continued to grow and doubled in size. This means that our hope of chemo continuing to be effective is very diminished. It might be working, but if so, just a little bit.
The GREAT news: The other areas outside the liver remained unchanged/stable. They didn’t shrink (again lack of chemo’s effectiveness), but they also didn’t grow. More discussion on this in just a moment.
AND… the one cancer marker that had dropped significantly two weeks ago has continued to go down. YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!
After the weekly Tumor Review Board, consensus is to hit the remaining spot in the liver with the same radiation.
Chemo on this past Monday had already been postponed to make room in the schedule for likely radiation, and because my Angel *really* needed a break from the hammer. Even a week off was cause for <short-term> celebration.
So, after the next Y-90 treatment, it’s back to chemo, with Avastin (blood supply reduction). Chemo is needed for this, as it acts as a delivery mechanism for the Avastin.
We have already started looking for applicable clinical trials. While we have an exact picture of what the molecular mutation/variant of colon cancer is, matching up CTs looks to be challenging. Lois’ version has already eliminated some of the new T-Cell experimental therapies, they’ve been proven to not work. More on this as things develop.
When we started Qigong (Chinese meditation for self-healing), the initial goal was to set the stage for my sweetie to cure herself. There’s a LOT of work involved, and more importantly, trust factors that need to be built up. So, the old “how do you eat an elephant” approach (“one bite at a time”) was needed: First focus on what’s needed to stabilize the tumors outside the liver. Bring their growth to a halt.
We’ve been working on that for a few months now, and voila’!!!! That’s exactly what the CTSCAN revealed. In fact, it seemed that our oncologist was a little puzzled on why the non-liver tumors had stopped growing, given that chemo didn’t work on the last spot in the liver. The best speculation was that since they’re in the peritoneum (the “sack” that contains all the organs), they’re just not that well vascularized.
We have opted to believe that Lois’ work with Qigong is making a difference. And now, belief levels have increased – so that is positive reinforcement in trust, the foundation for Qigong to work.
For those of you who know my darling personally, you also know that if ANYONE can connect with her CHI, it’s Lois. The critical part is getting the right guidance and understanding. Like anything else, there are zillions of people and organizations that proclaim their expertise. Finding the right one and sifting out the others – that’s not so easy. If anyone wants to know who we’ve found, and why we have them in such high regard, please DM me.
FINALLY, we’re also continuing to increase the daily consumption of CBD+THC, and let that do its work as well.
Continuing onward and upward!!!
Our thanks and love to you all!!!!!!!
My heart goes out to you Lois and Jerry; this is a hard battle, but you two have the kind of teamwork to really do everything you can to get through this and to continue to enjoy the fun lifestyle you have known together for so many years. My love and prayers are with you; this is such a difficult time for you both. Having been through this with Dick, the memories of it all are very close to my heart. You have many folks supporting you and that has got to be very heartwarming for you, as well as many people praying for you. Wishing you only life's very best. Love, Kay
Ducky and I will be trialing at flowing Lake where we met all those years ago. I treasure all the photos you have done of my dogs over the years. With Love, Sandy
We are sending you Both All of our Love ~ You are in our thoughts Always ~ We are with you both Always in Loving Healing thoughts ~ Sending Huge Hugs ~ Love from Roger ~ Sonja and Family ~
Praying hard for you both! Lois, you are such a strong willed, loving person. I know you’re going to beat this! Jerry, we all know how lucky Lois is to have you by her side. Sending love ❤️
Well, I'm going to focus on the good news, and keep sending thoughts re: the Review Board of having an "ah ha!" moment.
I honestly can't thank YOU enough for keeping us so informed Jerry. It makes knowing what to pray about, ask for, and identify the specific kind of pure energy thoughts that should be sent your way. I love you guys so much and I love this picture of Lois. You two are such incredible gifts and I am praying that your greatest gift in return is on the way! Complete and total healing and restoration. Much love!
Love your story. Would love it even more if you could post some photos from those early days 42 years ago. Sending my love and good wishes.
Hi Lois and Jerry - love to you both. I found that taking Claritin prior to the Neulasta shot [immune booster], cut down on my aching bones... if you can stomach it or your oncologist allows. Best.
Thank you for the update Jerry. I keep you both on my heart and in my prayers always! I want to be of use in some way. Is there anything I can do to help??? Run errands, clean at your house, anything? Anything?! I will try to come up with ways to help you too but please, please know that I am a phone call away if you come up with any need. Love you both so much!
Hey you guys. Just think of the fun we are going to have after we beat this together. Our journeys have crossed paths again and the very minute I beat my stuff I am down to you guys for our happy dance!!i admire you two so much, and Lois is the toughest person I know in a streamline package
thinking of you both nd sending hugs. XXXX
Sending our prayers and continued love.
Hello Jerry & Lois, Thank you for the update. We are sending love and prayers your way always. As for your PTSD statement Jerry, I am no doctor, but many people who are not vets deal with it. I know I have my own, so you may have it on some level. I would think after all you both deal with on a daily basis, the unknown has to effect you. It is after all a stress disorder. Sending you both much love and hugs and just wanted to say hello! Thinking of you! Lana & Patric
I am chanting for the two of you. And sending intense love and light ...love Kelbi
Thank you for continuing to share your journey. It takes great courage, and love, to continue on a path of so much pain, uncertainty and yet joy. The two of you are like a finely honed violin. Such beautiful sounds. My thoughts and wishes for healing go with you both.