Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a Difference a Year Has Made

When I think back to last year this time, things were so very different. It had been a little over a year then and I was still getting used to my husband's terminal cancer diagnosis. He had been taken off Sutent a couple of months earlier after six cycles, and I was desperately searching for a miracle. The web became my constant companion, as I dilingently checked several times a day for a new kidney cancer drug for him to try. Since the chemo had been stopped, we could tell that his cancer was growing and he was running out of time. Then after two months of searching, there it was right before me......Torisel! All information pointed to the fact that it was available in the US but had not yet been approved in Canada for patient use and more importantly, had not been approved in my province. After all we had been through over the previous 13 months, I was not about to just settle for those words "not approved" and decided to do something.
First step was to call the manufacturer Wyeth and find out everything there was to know about it and to determine if I could get approval on this end, if they would forward the drug. It was a go! Next step was to contact his oncologist to get the proper procedures in order and to ask him to speed things up as fast as possible, as my husband's condition was worsening. I called the oncologist constantly and I must say he did everything possible to move the process along. Apparently, the hospital board had to make the final approval and this is what took the extra time. Finally, after two months longer, we received approval and my husband's first treatment of Torisel began in August 2007.
Yes, last year there were so many uncertainties with a new chemo drug, what it's side effects would be, how my husband would react and the thought that if it failed, we did not think there was anything else available. My husband was quite willing to take the risk, and that is all that mattered. The final decision was his alone, and myself and our two daughters would stand by his decision and support him all the way.
Last year was all about "taking a risk" and today we have learned through our experiences with cancer, that life can be extended by agreeing to do that. Each of us take risks everyday, sometimes just by walking out our front door, so face your fears and keep the faith.

4 comments:

mcaritee said...

You are certainly a wonderful writer. I hope your blog is found by those who are in search of finding hope to battle with cancer. I am certain you will be an inspiration to many in your writing and will definitely send the message to stay positive and never give up hope! Look forward to your postings!!! Good luck!!!

Anonymous said...

Well done. My husband was diagnosed in June 2006 and is still here and doing well. He has failed sutent and nexevar and has been on nothing since Christmas and feels great and his last 2 blood tests showed no evidence of tumor activity. This cancer is so unpredictable. The key is to have a good attitude and to never ever give up. There are good times ahead.

Best wishes

Bonnie said...

My Dearest Debbie:

This is a wonderfuly insightful undertaking. Many would be frozen in their tracks if they had travelled your path in the past few years, and of course Willards path as he is the protaganist of the story hey? A brave man and a man it would be hard not to love I think, with his spirit and winning smile. Your two are an ironclad pair methinks.
This is something that many people suffering through this curse of cancer will gravitate toward, and also it is something I would have loved to have at my fingertips when dealing with my daughter's Hodgkins Lymphoma.
You go girl-what a tremendously energetic spirit you are.
Heather sent me this when she was going through chemotherapy. I share it with you now. It goes like this:

CANCER IS SO LIMITED-
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot kill friendships.
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot destroy peace.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot suppress memories.
It cannot conquer the spirit.

And, Debbie, you are living proof of all these things and more.

Bonnie.

Stephanie said...

I saw this and was very happy you put this up. May god be with you all and we hope everything goes well.