Monday, May 19, 2014

A late post... but an update nonetheless!

The internet has been nonexistent this last week from where I am now living.   Will have to work on getting internet to my new home... but for now... here is an update from Mary Britton.  She wrote it late last week.  Sorry for the late posting.  I will be heading back out to Nairobi late Saturday night.  Will write more.

Greetings from Nairobi!

I have been here with Aunt Ketty since Saturday afternoon. On that day, soon after I arrived via 15-hour bus ride (!) Aunt Lucy introduced me to the guest house staff and gave me a very good tour of the place.  She had been cooking in the kitchen and knew all of the kitchen staff very well. They welcomed me with smiles and greetings. Since then I have cooked a few meals for Aunt Ketty alongside the staff. They are a joy!

I have met a variety of people from numerous countries who serve in very distant places. It has been a rich time of fellowship!

Aunt Ketty is doing very well overall. The medical staff at MP Shah Cancer Care Center are amazed that she continues to eat without problems. After three weeks of hard-hitting radiation treatments this is God's miracle! In fact, on Wednesday morning she said she thought perhaps she was developing a wound because it was becoming a bit more difficult to pass food. We prayed to God to clear any wounds and today she reports a vast improvement. The only pain medication she is on at this point is 500mg of Tylenol (Panadol) three times a day!

We met with the doctor Thursday and I found him to be friendly, caring, knowledgeable, thorough and kind. He took a great amount of time with Ketty and answered each and every question she had. I had also come with some questions and he was very gracious with his answers.

After we had left him I realized I had forgotten to ask something and when I returned he welcomed me and gave me another five minutes of his time. I am thankful to God that he led us here and that Ketty is receiving her care in a place where there are many believers.  Her chemotherapy nurse is a sincere believer and they enjoy sharing together when they meet on Fridays.

Here are the news details from yesterday and today:

--Weight: Ketty is 49kg. This is down 1kg from 3 weeks ago, but is to be expected. The doctor did not see a serious problem especially since she is still eating 3 meals a day and a few snacks in between. She just doesn't eat her normal amount at each meal, but her nutrition is balanced.

--The doctor prescribed a lozenge to soothe Ketty's esophagus if wounds begin to disturb her.

--The chemotherapy is beginning to cause extra noise in her ears.  He assured her today that this will subside once the chemotherapy is finished. Possibly it could take a month to fully dissipate.

--Ketty was given a 30 day stay at the Kenyan border, but the doctor said he will write a letter explaining the reason for her extended stay. A border guard assured me when I crossed over that such a letter will be sufficient for a supportive document.

--The chemotherapy that she is receiving now over the five weeks of this first round of treatment is what the doctor termed a "radiation sensitizer" meaning it maximizes the effect of the radiation. This is not an amount of chemo that kills the cancer, however. So, at the end of these five weeks, and after a month off back in Uganda, Ketty will return to Nairobi for evaluation.

--The evaluation will include an endoscopy with biopsy. Even if the biopsy comes out clean of cancer, she will undergo a second round of chemotherapy. This second round will be two different drugs, different from what she's just received. They are carboplatin/paclitaxol and they are designed to kill any lurking, lingering, hiding cancer cells. The most likely schedule for the next round is 1st week: chemotherapy, 2nd week: monitoring blood work, 3rd-4th weeks: rest. This same cycle will repeat 6 times. If she begins in July, she will finish toward the end of November. Of course this also means a lot of traveleing back and forth and all the chemo side-effects thrown in there, too. Being praying for us as we work out the details!
--If the endoscopy does not come out clean, they will also do brachiotherapy which is targeted radiation placed in a "pipe" and inserted in her esophagus. It will only touch the specific areas where lesions remain.

--He continues to agree that she is not a candidate for surgery due to the placement of the cancer in the middle of her esophagus.

Today was our LONG day. We left at 7 a.m. and our first stop was the lab for her blood draw.  Her labs have looked fairly good so far, but today showed some wear and tear. Her white cells were significantly down so I will give her an injection tomorrow afternoon which will boost her white cell production. One of our David Family sons lives here in Nairobi at present and he visited us last Sunday. Unfortunately, we had to tell him he couldn't come this Sunday for another visit due to her low white count. 
Following the labs, we reported to chemotherapy where we spent 7 hours and then finished with radiation. Last week she began having trouble breathing after her radiation due to the cold nature of the radiation room. She got an inhaler and has not has that struggle at all this week. Today's nurse turned the AC off in the room while Ketty was being treated and she did very well. 
Unfortunately, it took us 2 hours to get home after we were finished due to hectic Nairobi traffic.
If any of you heard about the bomb blasts in Nairobi, I want to assure you that we are fine. The blasts were on the other side of town. We also heard from our David Family son and he also is fine.
She was really shivering last night, which is mostly the cold Nairobi night air, but is also partly because of a descending red blood cell count. We will remedy that with more roast beef and greens, as well as an iron supplement prescribed today.

Yesterday marked her third week complete and we celebrated with banana bread with a sparkly number 3 candle placed on top, balloons, streamers and all the cards that she's received strung all over the room.  I think I wore her out!

Thanks for waiting so long for this update, but truthfully, she is doing so well and continues to stand in such strong faith, there wasn't much news to report until we met with the doctor today! As I post this she is in tears of joy praying to her Father God, thanking Him for His goodness to her!

Thanks for your prayers and text messages. She truly loves all the messages on facebook and the cards you've sent!

Thanks also for your financial support. With another round being a sure thing now, we realize we're going to need much more than we originally thought. Unfortunately, I don't know the exact amount.

Blessings to each one of you!!!!!


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