“’Jesus’ perfect empathy was ensured when, along with His Atonement for our sins, He took upon Himself our sicknesses, sorrows, griefs, and infirmities and came to know these ‘according to the flesh’ (Alma 7:11–12). He did this in order that He might be filled with perfect, personal mercy and empathy and thereby know how to succor us in our infirmities. He thus fully comprehends human suffering. Truly Christ ‘descended below all things, in that He comprehended all things’ (D&C 88:6).
“Part of enduring well consists of being meek enough, amid our suffering, to learn from our relevant experiences. Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us and do so in ways which sanctify these experiences for our good (see D&C 122:7). Thereby, our empathy, too, is enriched and everlasting.” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell
This meaningful quote was shared by friend and neighbor, Heather Nemelka, several weeks ago and adds perspective to our recent experience and ongoing need for patience and trust. What we have passed through, as well as what has has passed through us in the past 12 months has both humbled and enriched us. We are deepening our understanding and appreciation of empathy and compassion as we are the abundant recipients of it each day.
Melanie continues to endure her part well despite some minor setbacks in the past few days. She spent the night in the hospital on Monday, August 1st because of severe nausea, vomitting, and dehydration. Her oncologist felt it best to re-regulate her medications and stabilize her condition. It provided peace of mind and insight on her future health outlook. Swelling in the brain (a result of the radiation treatments) was putting pressure on the cerebellum, which in turn caused significant nausea and balance issues. She was losing weight and was weakened by the lack of adequate food intake.
Melanie is back on her steroid medication to reduce the swelling, which has in turn alleviated the nausea. It is important that she gain weight and improve muscle mass. Thus she was prescribed an anti-depressant that has the interesting side-effect of increasing one’s appetite. Let’s hope it works and that she can soon break the 100 pound barrier.
Her stay in the hospital included a series of MRI scans of the brain and a CT scan of the chest/abdomen/pelvis. In the past, the MRI results in the brain were usually scary and uncertain because of unresolved tumors, with the CT scans providing the more encouraging news about the shrinking tumor mass in her lungs. Today’s consultation with Dr. Watson, showed just the opposite.
The good news is that the brain appears to be clear of any new tumor growth since the last treatment in May. It will still take time for the effected regions to recover and heal, but indications are very good. The bad news is that there are some small new tumors around the original mass in the lungs. Radiation is not an option because it would likely destroy 20-30% of her lung. Therefore the advised course of action is for Melanie to begin treatment with Avastin. This drug is an anti-angiogenesis inhibitor designed to interfere with the blood vessels that support the growth of the tumor. By keeping the tumors small, it allows the Tarceva drug to work more optimally in also inhibiting the growth and spreading of cancer cells. Avastin will also have a positive benefit to the healing of brain and allow Melanie to shift from her long-standing steroid regimen.
We are now awaiting approval (in terms of insurance coverage) to begin the new treatment. It involves a series of five IV infusion, one given every two weeks. After 10 weeks, new scans will be done to evaluate the results.
Thanks to all for your continued prayers, thoughtfulness, and generosity!