Update from Keith: April 23rd, 2008

At the outset of Taylor's treatment, they told us she would not have any scans to see the progress of her therapy's effect on the tumor until 12 weeks had passed. In the end, because she got a sinus infection, she had a CT scan after only 7 weeks or so, that showed excellent progress. Yesterday was her first 12-week scan.

Taylor has managed to stay out of the hospital the entirety of her current 3-week chemo cycle. Or at least she has managed to stay out of spending the night at the hospital. She has been in each of the last two Fridays to recieve blood transfusions (thanks again to all who have donated).

It has been wonderful for all of us to have Taylor home during this stretch. She has been able to get out of the house a little bit and has generally been much happier than she usually is at the hospital.

Taylor's CT scan yesterday was all good news. The tumor has continued to shrink. The scan cannot reveal whether the tumor cells are alive or dead which is the true measure of success, but a shrinking tumor is very good news. Taylor's oncologist seems pleased by her progress.

Taylor will be back in the hospital overnight on Friday for her regular chemotherapy regimen. Last time she made it through the first day without throwing up but had a really bad second day (at least it was at home). We have asked to modify her anti-nausea medicaiton somewhat in the hope that we can avoid a traumatic Sunday. We are very hopeful that things will proceed as they did last time: chemo on Friday night, home on Saturday afternoon.

While things are much better than they were in February and March when Taylor spent so much time in the hospital, there are still problems. Taylor's mouth is still a mess and there is no end in sight. Each chemo treatment exacerbates the damage the radiation did and makes healing that much tougher. She throws up usually once a day or more because of the collection of mucus in her throat. That usually provides her enough relief to take her to the next day. We also suction her mouth regularly but much of this stuff is stubborn and doesn't move. Moreover, Taylor's mouth is very sore and it hurts for her to clean her mouth. It's no fun.

Taylor also has some lingering neurological effects from her chemo drugs. Her gait is ungainly and it is sometimes difficult for her to balance while walking. This is a side effect of one of her chemo drugs. It has improved a little over the last week or so, but it's probably an issue that she'll struggle with for a while.

We are encouraged by her CT scan results and have even begun settling into a routine that we never chose, but must accept. So much has happened since she first started her course of treatment and yet we are less than one-third of the way to completion. Now we embark on a constant grind of dealing with Taylor's mouth problems, feeding her through her tube, administering her medication, hoping to avoid spending nights at the hospital, and (most importantly) healing.