Fall 2009: Jake and Nancy learned that Nancy's breast cancer was stage four. Winter 2013: They are still fighting. This is a gathering place to follow their story, offer support, love and prayers... to be by their side.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Update from Nancy

Christmas Eve update from Nance with very good news ... Happy Holidays!

We met with Dr Rinn today to review the PET/CT scan from Tuesday and the results were as good as we could have possibly hoped. Overall, the cancer has been knocked back by about 50%, if not more, after only 3 months of treatment. Dr. Rinn took us down to meet in person with the radiologist to look at the before and after images, which were fascinating. He showed us how the liver tumors have decreased in size and activity, the largest has decreased from 28x25mm to 17x16mm. Other liver tumors have decreased as well (there were 14 when I had my scan in September). The tumors in my lungs have also decreased in size and number. I had over 40 small tumors between my two lungs back in September, some of these are no longer visible, others are smaller, and some are unchanged/stable. The cancer causing my back pain, which was actually in the lining of the lung, is gone even though I still have some lingering pain in this area due to nerve damage. The cancer in my spine is showing healing as well. All together this is really great news and cause for celebration! Dr. Rinn indicated I would probably stay on the current chemo for another 3 months or so, then we'll switch to an aromatase inhibitor. She is looking into some clinical trials for which I might be eligible, so stay tuned for more on that.

We are obviously thrilled with the results and are going to relax and enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for your continued love, support, and prayers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"NANCY" bringing hope to far corners of the world

A note from Patrick Dolan:

I visited India in November and did some volunteer work for Child Family Health International. I’ve done so before in Bhutan and South Africa, as Nancy knows. CHFI’s primary mission is to place health science students in areas of medical need to enable them to gain experience while supplying crucial health delivery services to underserved populations.

The organization runs clinics under the moniker of ChildCare where they have medical volunteers from all over the world conduct pediatric health assessment and women’s health/reproductive health clinics in underserved regions. While in India, we did clinics in a remote region in the far north near the Tibetan/Chinese border called the Nubra Valley. The valley itself is at 12,000 feet. We started out in the city of Leh, and we traveled over the Khardung La pass which, at 18,300 feet, is the highest motorable pass in the world. It was quite a journey! We were also delivering a new mammography machine to the subdistrict hospital in Diskit. It is the only hospital for about a 500 square mile region and the only mammography machine in the area. Previously, patients would have had to travel to Leh over the Khardung La for this service.

After hearing Nancy’s story, our team decided the machine should be named Nancy. We obtained some sticky labels and have spelled “NANCY” across the base of the machine. Nancy had a rough ride over the pass and a tough landing, but our Australian radiographer was able to recalibrate it and get it up and running for the first women’s clinic. One of the nurses in the group from Vancouver Island made all of we men in the group have pictures taken with our heads between the mammography plates since “everyone knows that all men are boobs anyway”! I hope to get some of those pictures soon to share (well – maybe not!!).

It was an amazing trip and a wonderful way to acknowledge Nancy in a foreign land. She is now doing great work 12 and a half time zones away! We’re not allowed to take pictures in the clinics themselves for privacy purposes, but I will try to send along some photos of children on the hospital grounds that we had seen in the clinic.

Women in Diskit dressed up in their fineries to welcome us to the subdistrict hospital. They were also seen in the women’s health clinic, and a the second from the right was the first recipient of a mammogram from Nancy.

Buddhist temple in a town called Sumar where they lit candles for Nancy’s recovery.
Two Indian Army trucks that transported many of our supplies. The second one contains Nancy – the mammography machine –as it works its way over the 18,000 foot pass.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chemo Day

Week ten, and I am sitting with Nancy as she awaits her labs before having chemo. She's looking as glamorous and beautiful as ever, and her energy is pretty good. I have been with her and Jake all week in the role of support, and it has been such a treasured time for me with the two of them. For those of us who live scattered across the country and don't get to see and be with Jake and Nancy, it is hard not having that touch-- that day to day ability to drop by some soup, give a hug, or whatever.  But I am so encouraged knowing that they are surrounded by so many who love and support them here in Seattle. On Saturday, some of Nancy's Seattle friends threw a "love shower"-- a party to celebrate Nance. It was an amazing outpouring, and I know that all of us left the gathering uplifted by Jake and Nancy's strength and courage. I'll post some photos upon my return to Nashville.

So we are sitting and waiting right now in Swedish Cancer Institute. Everything seems to go very slowly, but that's okay. Life has really slowed down, and this is good. We are able to linger in the moments-- sipping coffee while watching the Olympic mountains turn pink, taking  brisk walks in this cold and bright Seattle sunshine, and enjoying good food and laughter together. Slow is good. Attention is shifted to beating back this cancer into oblivion. "Nancy..." (they just called her)... time for today's fight.