Tuesday With a Side of Tears

The call came in at 11:45am, woke me from a late morning nap, and was only two minutes in duration.

In the six minutes that followed, I could only lie in bed, face buried in my pillow, and bawl. It felt like an eternity; I just didn’t know what to do. I was lost, even though this surreal feeling wasn’t new.

The conversation replayed in my mind:

Dr. Roush began by acknowledging himself as the caller, drawing a deep breath and saying, “so here’s the scoop,” and I knew I was in trouble. I emotionally braced myself as he continued, “The good news is that there are no new tumors.”

‘That’s good,’ I thought before quickly following it with an ‘Uh oh…’ I’ve heard enough news from my doctor that I had a pretty good idea where he was headed next.

He explained that most of the tumors had remained the same size. I felt my heart drop with disappointment. Both oncologists truly thought we would see most of the tumors disappear or at least shrink significantly. 

I let silence be the messenger of my emotions. He backpedaled a bit: “well, the scan doesn’t tell us if this is still active cancer or ‘dead’ cancer.” It seemed like a wimpy excuse, and I plan to drill him on the topic at my Monday appointment. But at that moment, I let it pass. I could tell he wasn’t done. 

The worst news always comes last: three of my existing tumors had grown. (He said two, but after further examination the count was three.)

I tried to breathe, but all of the air was suddenly absent from my house. All I could think was, ‘I went through whole brain radiation (WBR) for nothing?!’ (My radiation oncologist would later agree.)

Dr. Roush continued: He and my radiation oncologist already conferred, and they recommend we immediately zap the growing spots with CyberKnife, before they get any larger. As is the case in my lungs, these tumors are overachievers.

Sheepishly and a bit scared for an answer, I asked Dr. Roush whether or not he recommended chemotherapy. He alleviated my fears, “I would not recommend chemotherapy at this point.” Phew!

On Friday I met with my radiation oncologist to begin the time-consuming, multi-step CyberKnife setup process. Next comes another MRI, a CT scan, the molding of a new mask, and a lot of time spent lying on many hard tables. I hope to complete all of that and the first of two treatments in the first week of October, although nothing is scheduled yet. 

I also want to share some great news I received during yesterday’s appointment: the first two CyberKnife sessions were 100% successful. At first glance, it seems that the tumors treated immediately after my seizure have disappeared. 

After the two upcoming Cyberknife sessions, I will have one treatment-free month. If the following MRI shows no new growth, I will get to extend the reprieve for two more months. Just imagine: I might feel good enough to go snow tubing in early December!

At 11:51am on Tuesday – after six incredibly long, lonely, and sad minutes – I worked up the courage to send Seth a text message: “😢”.

I’m very scared and can’t do this alone. Fortunately, I don’t have to.

19 responses to “Tuesday With a Side of Tears

  • kimmywink

    You made my heart sink in your first two paragraphs… Oh, Jessica.

    I am so happy you have Seth, too. I’d love to be there for you but I know, it’s just not the same as the one you love holding your hand through it all. Love to you both!

  • Nicole (@ladyjustie333)

    Jessica love, no one should have to endure what you are going through. No one.

    I am glad you have your amazing Seth and precious bunny to help you through.

    You are one of my Heros. I have something I want to share sith you. Check Twitter soon…:-) xxoo

    • Jessica

      A hero? Gosh, I’m just me, the same person I’ve always been. I’ve been brainstorming a future article where I wonder if this is what it really took for people to know who I am. Or is my gruff, sarcastic manner accepted with love only when people can now see the pain and struggle. That’s always been there too, on the inside, but who would have known?

      Anyway, I do thank you for your love. xo

  • Sharon

    Hello Jessica, have you read up on canabis oil helping to reduce tumors? My dad has stage 4 lung cancer so I’ve read up lots on it. Feel free to message me privatly if you want to.

  • Craig

    After reading that I can sure understand how hard the bad news was. It really was good that most of the brain mets were halted, and there’s good reason to think strong targeted radiation could work on any growers. I hope that the targeted radiation goes well, and I’ll be hoping that soon after your break there will be a new treatment option that you’ll be eligible for.

    Best hopes,

    in PA

  • Lorraine

    Courage and strength pour from your words…..
    Six minutes in a pillow are an admirable choice, many would require bottles of vodka and days of hangover.
    Finding words of encouragement to do what you can do..there are no words adequate enough for the depth of feelings and hugs sent to you.
    Thank you for sharing

  • Anand Kumar Katakam

    Dear Jessica,

    I pray GOD for giving you the strength and will power to overcome this pain with success. I know this is overwhelming time for you, but i have some alternative form of treatment which successfully worked for other cancer patients along which you can use with your regular treatment. I tried to reach you couple of times before through this/ twitter but did not hear back. Please call me at 6102472408 and give it a try.

    PS: I am a scientist in a reputed biotech firm .


  • stage5cancerblog

    I just finished more cyber knife 3 weeks ago. I will be thinking of you every day. I consider you one of my comrades and fellow travelers even though we haven’t met yet. I draw strength from your strength and I am rooting for you to knock it back. Every day is a gift. Cancer sucks.

    • Jessica Rice

      Thank you so much. We’re quite a troop!

      How many CK sessions have you had to date?

    • stage5cancerblog

      I have had 6 mets treated so far, in 2 different groupings. I have also had the conversation with my oncologist that the brain mets (tumors) are likely the toughest fight I will have. It will probably not be the lungs that will bring me down. I, however, will do my best to coexist with the little buggers as long as possible.

      I will be thinking about you and looking forward to hearing from you…

  • Reuven

    Jessica- Your (former) coworkers have you in their thoughts & prayers.

    In fact, I just had to disable your Mantis account this morning since you are technically no longer employed by us. But it can be easily re-enabled should you one day be able to return.

  • Kim Flatt

    Always cheering for you & Seth!! Always believing & praying!!! You CAN do this!!! Love you!!

  • Sabina

    Dear Jessica,
    I can understand your disappointment that the WBR didn’t yield better results but there is no reason why the upcoming cyberknife treatments will be any less effective than the first ones… which kicked a***.
    Continuing to cheer for and pray for you.
    With great affection,

  • Sjoukje

    oh wow….I have no words…. just that Im glad you have Seth to be there with and for you and that Im sending you lots of love and positive thoughts. xx

  • Never Alone | The Purple Jacket

    […] Tuesday With a Side of Tears (stageiv.wordpress.com) […]

  • Kay

    Jessica Rice,my prayers are with you and I would love to add your name to my Church’s prayer list.I have 3 in my family who are or have battled cancer and there is none in the family.I will be a 3 yr survivor of breast cancer in Jan and my sister has had 2 surgeries ..a yr apart to remove brain tumors ( in hosp now ) and another sister w/ carcinoma of the nose.BUT I will tell you what I tell myself and them: In Jeremiah 29:11 it says: ” For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord,plans to prosper you,not to harm you…plans to give you hope and a future”. I claim that as my verse and I pass it on to you.

    • Jessica Rice

      Thank you, Kay, for adding my name to your list. That’s very thoughtful!

      You sound like a family full of strength, love, and experience. Warm thoughts and wishes to all of you. xo

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