I didn’t want to write the blog, I didn’t want to put the words down or have to rethink or revisit the last 10 months; of all the calculated decisions Bruce has had to make regarding chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and his day to day push trying to out think, out maneuver and out smart this wretched disease - it’s been war - Bruce versus cancer.
The last update was post Stem Cell Transplant in July. Our hopes and expectations were high on Bruce recovering, wiping out his cancer and having a couple months of normalcy before resuming a manageable maintenance therapy regimen. Note: the keyword expectations…one thing for certain that we’ve learned over the past 10 months is that we can’t and won’t place any amount of faith or hope in expectations. When we hear the words “our expectations are…” we cringe.
In September, Bruce underwent a cervical spine surgery to remove a tumor that had grown out of his C6-C7 vertebra. Making it barely two weeks, the surgeon had to revisit the surgical site and remove the same tumor that had grown again - it was larger and more aggressive than any myeloma tumor he’d seen. Prognosis wasn't great. Bruce was given a two week window to recover before starting intense chemotherapy to systemically try and get the tumor growth under control. Infection hit, and Bruce wasn’t able to begin his chemotherapy for three weeks; just enough time for tumors to invade his cervical and thoracic spine. Within days Bruce lost mobility in his left arm and both legs.
Told that he had reached a maximum dosage of radiation on his cervical spine, Bruce’s symptoms began to progressively worsen by the hour, we scrambled to assemble a team at Scripps Radiation Center to beg, plead and convince specialists to re-evaluate his case. After a dozen doctors spent the better part of an evening, conference calling one another, with open text books and thankfully open minds; additional radiation was granted and he would begin his first of 12 doses the next day.
Typically, chemotherapy and radiation are not administered simultaneously. In Bruce’s case the doctors didn’t have a choice. He began a 4 pronged chemotherapy regimen, which included radiation. Trying to “beat the clock” and get ahead of the myeloma, Bruce’s overall health spiraled downward and it seemed that his pain was going to be the deciding factor whether he could continue his fight, as it was quickly overtaking his strong will and determination. Then it got worse. I climbed into his hospital bed, held his hand and told him I would take care of our girls.
During that night, my dear friend sent me a text that she believed in miracles. I prayed.
Bruce saw the sun come up the next morning. Still consumed by pain he declined his radiation treatment and waived his chemotherapy infusion. His doctor stepped in, promising to keep his pain controlled, he encouraged Bruce to continue with radiation and chemotherapy. So he did. He fought another day, and another…
From deep in his soul, Bruce made the decision to keep fighting. Whether it’s his sailing background, world champion mentality or the vision of being around longer for his two daughters, this man is fighting. He’s fought through pain that I thought would kill him. He fought to move his arms and feed himself unassisted, and he’s now fighting to walk again.
Chemotherapy will be ongoing for months, it will become a part of his routine, part of his life. And so be it. He completed his final radiation treatment last week. His oncologist feels the systemic chemotherapy is working to control tumor growth. We know his bones are still riddled with disease but tests indicate it's not progressing. By the end of the week he’ll be moved to an inpatient rehabilitation facility to begin intensive workouts. He’ll relearn to sit and hopefully stand on his own. He hopes to walk again, even if it’s with the aid of a crutch. Which takes us full circle, “you must lean to stand.”
The evaluation of his symptoms indicate Bruce will be in rehab for four weeks. He is convinced it will take him two weeks. I bet on Bruce.
Put your life in Gods hands. Put your health in the hands of doctors and nurses and put your soul in the hands of family, friends and community ~ Lymphoma Cancer Survivor
On a daily basis we thank God, we thank the doctors and nurses who enter the room to administer medication and expert advice. But it’s you, our friends, family and community that deserve the biggest thanks. You fight every single day with us. Friends, like family, that drop all plans and fly across the country to share a Thanksgiving turkey. You deliver lunches to the hospital, and dinners to our home. You call a priest, you drive my girls anywhere and everywhere, you drive in LA traffic to visit, you get on flights last minute, you fill our refrigerator, walk our dogs, send messages of love and prayers our way. Whether it’s an aunt in New York City that can dash to the airport and be bedside in 8 hours, a brother that comes for two weeks, without hesitation, offering to come again for however long it takes for his sister and her family to be OK. Or a brother-in- law that has logged thousands of miles on San Diego freeways, leaving his own home to help in ours.
The list, and your love, go on and on. There isn’t a ride or meal or message that goes unappreciated. Truly. We wish we could do more to show our appreciation and express how much each single thing you do for our family helps us in epic proportions. It is the most beautifully orchestrated dance that you, our beautiful friends, have choreographed. Thank you for being our dance partner. We will keep the music playing.
We Wish You A Warm And Happy Holiday Season.