Update from Keith: November 5th, 2008

An end and a beginning. That could sum up tonight's election. It also describes Taylor's treatment.

Taylor's chemotherapy has come to an abrupt end. As even the half dose posed problems for her liver, she will have no more chemo. Her body simply cannot take it. Both Kris and I are relieved, although we will wonder for many months to come whether she received enough. There's no simple way to tell.

The end of chemo, unfortunately, does not signify the end of hospital visits. Taylor has been in the hospital since last Thursday night and will probably be there for three more weeks (possibly including Thanksgiving). Infection wracks her body. Her ear infection has bone involvement and requires 3 weeks of intravenous antibiotics. Although her fever has come down from last Friday's 106.5, she continues to spike temperatures. They will start her on anti-fungals tomorrow just to be safe.

Taylor remains on 4 East. It is strange to be at the hospital but not on 4 west where we have come to know all of the nurses. It's a little like being in one's hometown but at someone else's house. We hope she will never again be on 4 west; with the completion of chemo, there is no foreseeable reason to go back. The current plan is to stabilize her infection and then send her up to 6 north where she will have 3 hours of rehab each day. The rehab should help with her walking and her speech and get her back on the road to recovery.

That is the beginning. This is the beginning of the rest of Taylor's life. Her post-cancer life (we hope). She has many things left to overcome.

I recall that after her radiation finished, I remembered Churchill's quote that El Alamein was the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end. I think, now, the beginning of the end has arrived--although the end will be long and arduous. Thus, again, an end and a beginning.

Another beginning: Kristin is pregnant! As with nearly everything that has happened this year, it was not part of our plan, but it is a much happier development than the other surprises we have confronted. The baby is due in early May 2009.

I'm glad the baby will never see Taylor suffer the way she has (and continues to) this year. I hope that it will make Taylor an even better big sister. I often overreach trying to justify what Taylor has gone through. Maybe it will make her better in some ways--even many ways--but I cannot fail to think that such improvement came at an all too expensive cost.

And although the end may have begun, we will continue to blog. Taylor remains in the hospital, in any event. She will have years of follow-up scans to come. Her infection may require surgery. She will need some surgery regardless to remove scar tissue from her nasal passages. Maybe my declaration of an end begun is too optimistic; maybe cancer has no end.

A patient that received radiation around the same time as Taylor (and whose mother used to talk frequently with Kris) is back on 4 west. We do not know the details but the signs are ominous. It is a grim reminder of an end we hope we've avoided. (I hope) the beginning of that end is a lifetime away.


Kori said...

Oh, man oh man. I don't know what to say, I really don't. Just know that there can be many, many beautiful things to come of this, though it might take years for them to arrive. pleae keep blogging; I would love to hear more about Charlie, about the new baby, and about the post-chemo life you are all going to be dealing with.