Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Monster Within

This week I traveled to Houston to follow Dr. F's advice:  "Get to MD Anderson as quickly as possible."
My parents live only about 20 minutes from the MDA campus, which is very convenient.  The day before my scheduled appointment, Mom and I were reading through the pile of reports that summarize the last pitiful nine months of my life, when a great idea struck me:  I could try to load the accompanying imaging discs (PET and CT scans) on the laptop and maybe I could see with my own eyes what is going on in there.
My mom, for the record, thought this was a terrible idea.
I was never that great at biology, and I couldn't decipher the CT slices. (Yes, slices.  That is not a typo.)  But my most recent PET scan....well.  That's a different story.  It was fascinating in a creepy kind of way.  I watched as the screen slowly revealed my brain, my head, my spine, my arms, and my legs.  It spun me around in a perfect 360 degree rotation.  With a few lucky clicks here and there, I was able to dissect the images until I was staring at IT.  Like a terrible Rorschach print, The Sickness--my cancer--seemed to glare at me witth the blackest, angriest eyes I have ever seen.  In that second, it went from being an obscure thing to almost taking on a personality.  He is angry.  He is fierce.  He is scary.  He is tough.
I call him Monster.
One look was enough.  The next day I delivered those discs, along with the written reports, to Dr. B.  My curiosity, if that's what you want to call it, is satisfied.
The appointment at MDA went as well as it could have, under the circumstances.  I learned that without a doubt, Monster is classified as "chemo-resistant."  Um, yeah.  I have gone through five chemo drugs in five years, and he keeps finding his way back.  There will be no more chemotherapy from this point on.  That feels good, because chemo is miserable, and it feels scary, because chemo is how you fight cancer.
I also learned that Monster should not be treated with radiation or further surgery, at least for the time being.  Both are high-risk and present opportunities for new difficulties to arise.  Surgery, in particular, would be nothing less than life-altering, and still, there would be no guarantee for a favorable outcome.
That doesn't seem to leave many choices, does it?  That's what I was thinking.  I told you that Monster is tough.  Here's the plan:  I am returning to MDA next week for further testing.  Those ultra-specific scans will tell Dr. B exactly where Monster is in relation to certain things so that she can make a decision about treatment that will (hopefully) not cause further damage to my insides.  Make sense?  I know.  Sigh.
There are, according to Dr. B, a few medication options for treatment.  One that she is considering attacks the blood vessels of the cancer cells.  Another one is a type of hormone therapy.  Really, though, there were two main things things that Dr. B said to me during our visit that mattered significantly.  She said:
"How are the boys?"
"Don't give up."
Don't give up.  That was just seconds after she informed me that Monster's main body part (he has about 4-5) is the size of a baseball.  Minutes after I told her that I can, for the first time since 2007,
feel the cancer inside my body.  I wonder if she could look into my eyes and see how tired I am.  I'm sure she could see straight through my brave facade and knew how sick I am of being sick.  But maybe, mom to mom, she understood that every breath, no matter how hard it seems, is one more I get to share with my boys.  For them, the fight goes on.


Martha Cox said...

Allyson, I think and pray for you daily. I wish that I could take this monster away from you. hugs

Suzi Q said...

Allyson, You continue to be in our prayers. Prayers that God will kill this monster. Prayers for your family. Prayers for whatever each of you need from Him. Love to you & your family from the family of your friend. xo

Suzi Q said...

Allyson, You continue to be in our prayers. Prayers that God will kill this monster. Prayers for your family. Prayers for whatever each of you need from Him. Love to you & your family from the family of your friend. xo

Jennifer said...

Praying in the strong name of Jesus over you to banish every molecule of the monster out of your precious body, and heal you in every way. I pray The Healer will comfort you, guide you and your drs,and that you will find peace and strength in your battle. Dear Momma, don't know you but I'm in the throne room for you. (Hugs)

abelgalvan said...

I agree with Jennifer, Lord we ask that it would be ur will to heal this young woman and that u would receive the glory. God you are greater than any sort of cancer, Lord we ask for a miracle. In the loving name of Jesus, Amen.

Anonymous said...

I am praying for you. I love you. In the past few years I have come to understand the love of a momma and her boys...I feel your heart.
Praying for a healing in Jesus Name!
h potter

Anonymous said...

Your unfailing strength has blessed me over and over again. Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily. Hang in there!
Deanna Clinton

Susan Gary said...

My name is Susan Gary and I am the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition DFW Chapter Manager. When you have a moment, would you call me, 214-244-1629, or email me,
Thank you,

Tiffany Crews said...

Hi Allyson,

I am one of Chelsea's friends and met you and her and Phil's wedding. Just wanted you to know that I have been praying for you, and so has my bible study class here in Fort Worth. I will continue to pray for your healing, and your bravery and strength are amazing!
God Bless,
Tiffany Crews

The Horton Family said...

Die monster. Die.

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Lucy R said...

Hello, my name is Lucy Richardson and I work in the communications office at MD Anderson. I've been following your blog for some time waiting for the right opportunity to contact you. Seeing that you're now at MD Anderson, I thought this would be a good time. First off, thank you for sharing your experience with cancer. You are a brave woman, who exudes love and faith. Second, you are an incredible mother. The way you talk about your boys brings tears to me eyes. Anyway. I'd love to collaborate with you on a writing project. If you're interested, please email me at You and your family are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

The monster SUCKS!!!!! Yes, I conclude that is an appropriate, biblical response!!!! Keep fighting. You are an amazing woman, wife, mother, daughter and friend. You have NO idea how many people are behind the scenes praying for you and your sweet family!!!!

Anonymous said...

Women's Ministry here in Houston is praying for you and your sweet family. Praying specifically for healing and for strength for the battle. Holding your arms up in the Name of our precious Savior.
You are loved!
Debbie Williams

Stephanie Click said...

I'm praying for you .. and holding out hope for every day you spend at MD Anderson. I'm praying for all of those who are reading your scans that the right person is in the right place at the exact time -- the person who will hear from God EXACTLY what to do to heal you. Hang in there.

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