A Tough Decision

We’ve come to a fork in the road on our Great Cancer Adventure.  We have the opportunity to make a high-stakes bet.  Bet one way and we may win the jackpot.  Bet the other way and, while we’ll probably loose it all, we’ll get to stay at the table to play the game for a longer time.

I’ve had conversations now with both Jolie and Lisa regarding the visit with Dr. Curly at MD Anderson.  BOTH of them were very clear about what was said in that meeting I couldn’t attend: Put Maggie on oxaliplatin to shrink the tumors for surgery.  For any chance at surgery, those tumors have to shrink.  The CPT-11/Xeloda mix is keeping the tumors from growing but they aren’t still shrinking.  No oxaliplatin, no shrink, no operation.

Dr. Loukas, of course, has a conservative (and admirable) goal of keeping Maggie alive as long as possible.  As long as the current treatment is keeping her “progression free” meaning the tumors are not growing bigger, he’ll stay the course.  Only when his hand is forced will he switch to the next chemo, for reasons I’ve explained before.

If we switch to oxaliplatin, there’s a real risk that it might not work at all.  If it doesn’t, we can’t bail and go back to CPT-11/Xeloda.  Heck of a place to be.  Or, if we switch, the tumors may shrink but not enough.  But now we’ve played both our CPT-11 AND our oxaliplatin cards so we’ve cut precious time off the end we could have had if we would have waited until the last minute to make the switch.

So, here we are, sitting at this fork: Do we insist that Dr. Loukas switch Maggie to oxaliplatin or do we stay the course with CPT-11/Xeloda?  Do we go all in for a chance to win or do we play conservatively and just try to stay in the game as long as possible?  As Steven Tomlinson would ask: What’s more important: one difficult and painful shot at a cure, or maximizing the amount of time and quality of life we’ve got left?

Wow! How often in life do you get the opportunity to make such a once-in-a-lifetime, bet-your-wife’s-life decision?

The gravity of this choice is pulling on my heart and warping my soul.

9 thoughts on “A Tough Decision

  1. …”Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thy own understandings. In all your ways ack-nowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

    What else can we do…at least we always have a place to turn to…and it happens to be the ultimate…we just have to ‘turn loose’ and listen, I guess. Remember: Actually, NONE of us knows our destiny from minute-to-minute !!! B

  2. My heart is just breaking for ya’ll! I can’t begin to imagine being faced with that decision.
    I really just don’t even know what to say………except that I’ll be praying for wisdom and peace in making these decisions, and continue to pray for a cure!
    And here’s a great big cyber-hug for both you and Maggie ((((HUG))))

  3. The scriputre from Proverbs says it all. Also remember that you two have always made good decisions in the past. Neither of you would be where you are if you had not. You will make a good decison on this. Trust yourself and your instincts – they will lead you to the correct decison for you and for no one else. My prayers are with you.

  4. I’ve made a very similar decision with my sister at Southwest Cancer Center, and I’ll share with you my experience. I would not be quick to leave a chemo therapy that is working…and working means also keeping the cancer from growing. Once this chemo fails to retard the cancer growth, move on to the next one. From what I’m reading above, the Dr. has not told you that you can’t go on to Oxaliplatin if the cancer begins to grow. Clarify this.

  5. Just to clarify something (Not for you, Chris – I know you understand) – Oxaliplatin is a standard drug given for colon cancer. At MD Anderson it is their first line treatment (as a part of the FOLFOX regimen) for metastatic colon cancer. So, this is not some experimental drug being suggested – it is the standard of care.

    If Maggie’s tumors start to grow again, Dr. Loukas would definitely change her to FOLFOX.

    I will, of course, support any decision you guys make! Also, the surgeon commented on what an attractive liver Maggie has, so it seems that she still has time before the resection is completely off the table. Plus, Maggie’s amazing attitude and activity level will help her so much.

  6. Maggie,
    I really admire your courage and I’ll include you and your family in my prayers. You are truly an inspiring lady and you have an amazing attitude, dear.

    Much love from Texas…

  7. My heart felt heavy reading this. I can’t imagine how difficult this is. Whatever the decision, Maggie – keep your beautiful spirit and energy charging ahead (as always). I know you must have heard it a million times by now but you truly are an inspiration to many. Love ya!

  8. Maggie and Chris:

    We can’t even imagine what it must be like for the two of you to face such decisions. I know this doesn’t help you make your decision, but we want to let you know that you are a role model to us, both as individuals and as a couple. God helps those who help themselves. So I know He (or She) is looking out for you. You’re handling this the best way anyone ever could. We look forward to seeing you soon.

    Jennifer and Steve

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