Monday, June 30, 2008


Maura has come through  this cycle of low everything with flying colors. Her WBC should be on its way up today. Her energy level yesterday was the highest we've seen in a long time.  She even got the tiniest bit cranky when someone ( tried to do too much for her. I love cranky! 

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Low white blood cell count, low red blood cells, low blood pressure, and a climbing heart rate. That means that she is weak and tired and fragile--and all of that is expected from the strong chemo drugs.  Last cycle, at this point, she was hospitalized with a fever and pneumonia and other infections. So far, she is fever-free. Thank you, God. Her spirits are high.  She continues to amaze me with her faith and courage.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Maura!

Maura had a good day. Family (she misses her sisters) close by, friends dropping in and out, lots of food (most of which she didn't eat), lots of presents.  And, other than feeling weak and tired, she felt pretty good. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Round 2 of Chemo

Today Maura finished Round 2 of Chemo. In so many ways it was easier than Round 1. As an example, during Round 1, Maura's pulse rate hovered around 150 most of the time. During Round 2, her pulse rate stayed in a normal range until yesterday and today, when it got as high as 126, but not for too long, and that was primarily due to insufficient fluids. Her blood pressure has been low as well, but not as low or as often as during Round 1. She is exhausted; she feels very weak. She can't walk much. We used the wheelchair both yesterday and today. Dr. B had promised Maura that he was going to beat her down pretty hard over the next year or so. For Round 2 he changed the dosage of one of the chemo drugs to give her more over a shorter time period, which hits the tumors harder, but, of course, is also harder on Maura's body in general. Over the next seven or eight days, Maura's white blood cell count will tank again. We hope she will avoid pneumonia and other various and assorted infections this time.

One day, Maura and I were talking about this whole chapter in her life, and she said that it hasn't been difficult for her to find meaning during such a difficult time. "Not really," she said. "When I think of having cancer, I don't think about the pain of the last two months. I think about how good it is to have family and friends who love me so much."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shrinking, Benign, and Dead Tumors

We got the results from yesterday's CT Scan--basically, good news with some caveats. Before I tell you the specifics, let me say that when we were back at Park Plaza Hospital, awaiting Maura's surgery in April, I found myself in the chapel, unable to even form the words of a prayer. I was too overwhelmed. Lydia said, "That's okay, Mom, Just find a word. Or maybe a few, and whatever they are, just offer them up as a prayer." So I did. I could only come up with the words shrinking, benign, and dead tumors.  I just kept saying them over and over because I didn't have the energy or the brainpower to form any coherent prayer. I figured God could make sense of it all.  I wrote them down in the prayer book as I left the chapel.  
So, this is how things stand as of now:
The tumors are responding well to the chemo.  As an example, the largest tumor, measuring in at 8.8 cm in the CT scan just prior to chemo, is now at 4.5 cm.
The supposed large tumor behind her ovary isn't a tumor.
Dead Tumors: 
By the time Maura started chemo, she had way more than the seven tumors that showed up on the PET scan in May.  She had tumors" too numerous to count." Lots of little buggers.  They are dying off. Some of the biggies have lots of necrotic tissue on the inside, so they are "mostly dead" like Wesley in The Princess Bride. Some of the tinies are just all dead.  The fluid that was around her liver is gone, which is good, but I can't remember why.

Lots of progress, yet still lots of tumor.   Dr. B. says that it is still a long, hard, uphill road to follow, but that these first round results are "spectacular". 
Maura is ready for round 2 of chemo that starts in the morning. When we compare her condition this past week with that of the week prior to Round 1 of chemo, we are amazed and thankful.  The week before Round 1 of chemo she was throwing  up three or four times per day and she was in pain.  This week, before Round 2,  she has had almost no nausea and very little pain. Thank you so much for your prayers and concern. Please keep praying.  

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Maura walked to and from the parking lot at M D Anderson yesterday. That's the first time since starting at MDA that she hasn't needed a wheelchair to help her through the long hallways. She is regaining her strength. We are thankful for the strong days.
Chemo preparation starts on Sunday.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Today Maura decided to buzz cut her hair off. Is it possible that she is even more beautiful than before? I never before noticed what great cheekbones she has, or how perfectly shaped her head is, or how beautiful her silhouette. So many beautiful features that were overshadowed by her long, thick, blondish hair are now fully visible. Simply stunning. What a gorgeous daughter I have!

We returned home from the hospital today. Hurray! White blood cell count is normal. Fever is gone. Pneumonia and other infections have been chased away.
Visiting hours are open. We'll be at the hospital on Wednesday and Friday morning but should be around most of the rest of the time.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


We came to the emergency room on Thursday morning because of Maura's fever, which spiked up to 102. They decided that she should be admitted to the hospital to receive IV antibiotics and fluids. She has multiple infections, but is responding to the medicine. She was dehydrated and has developed mouth/throat sores as a result of the chemo. By Friday afternoon she was noticeably better. And today, Saturday, her fever seems to be going down. God continues to bless us with hope, good medical care, faithful friends and family.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Maura's white blood cell count is down to 0.3, but the clinic triage nurse still says that it is to be expected. Okay. I'm slightly freaked out by the low number, but okay. She feels crummy and she also had a fever tonight. It hovered around 101, the magic number when we are supposed to take her in to the emergency room, but quickly came back down to a safer number when she drank more liquids. She hates the drive to M D Anderson, so she worked hard to get them down. Thank you for praying and calling her and sending cards and notes.
Several of you have asked me when you can visit Maura. I'll check with the nurse about visitors because Maura really loves it when friends come over, and I hate to keep you away for too long.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

White Cells

I didn't realize that low white blood cell counts would be so low so soon. The low end of the range of a normal white blood cell count is 4. Yesterday's blood work showed Maura's as being 0.8. A day after chemo they gave her a shot that is supposed to stimulate the production of white blood cells in her bone marrow. I hope it kicks in soon. Because of that, please hold off on your visits until the counts are back up. You can still call and talk to her.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two for Two

We need to be especially vigilant this week as her white blood cell count diminishes, keeping Maura away from any possible exposure to infection. We have signs on the door asking people to head straight to the sink for 30 seconds of hand washing followed by hand sanitizer. She started wearing a mask last night when her friends came to visit, and we had to escort her out of the living room and "put her to bed" when she was visibly exhausted but unwilling to say goodbye to her friends.
She LOVES having her friends visit--all of them--and we all appreciate the love and attention shown by so many toward Maura. In fact, one of the doctors made a point of telling us that study after study has shown a definite correlation between long-term survival rates and two non-medical factors. The first is a deep faith and knowledge that God is in control. The second is the love, prayers, and support of friends and family. Maura is two for two. So, keep those visits and letters and emails and cards and prayers coming. Maura has every card hung on the wall in her room. She cherishes the time she has with friends and family. (Check with us before you visit, though, to make sure she's healthy enough)

Chemo Rest

Hurray! On Friday night Maura was disconnected from her chemo pump for at least two weeks. She had so many drugs put into her body this week--some via 24-hour pump that we brought home in a backpack each night, but most of them infused at the hospital Monday through Friday. Besides the two different chemo drugs, she was given drugs to counteract the side effects of the chemo, and more drugs to counteract the side effects of the drugs that counteract the side effects of the chemo (are you still with me?). We hope that the next round of chemo will start in the daytime because Maura did not sleep much this week because of certain drugs that kept her awake for several hours after our 11:pm or midnight return from the hospital each night.
So, for the next two weeks, she only has to go to the hospital three times a week for blood work and any additional treatment that the blood work might indicate she needs--not quite sure what that will be but I think it has something to do with low white or red blood cell counts and something in the blood called nutraphils (sp?). I'll look that up another day.