Review: Anne has adjusted to her new “normal.” Between chemo and routine checkups, she is managing her symptoms of fatigue and “bathroom challenges” by staying hydrated and eating whenever she can. She continues to receive acupuncture and lymphatic (strain/counterstain) massage to relieve side effects and enhance her healing.
Anne, a mutual friend, and I all met for brunch at her favorite restaurant to celebrate the results of her latest CT scan: more shrinkage of the tumors in her lungs, liver, and abdomen. While there is great joy with this news, one cannot ignore the toll the chemo is taking. Fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea zap her energy and strength. She has to manage her energy, not just picking which social events to attend, but also what housework to do.
While at the CT scan, Anne’s husband, Ray, used a wheelchair to get Anne to her appointments. When I was with her weeks earlier, she was able to walk. It was slow and we took breaks, but she persisted. Having to use the wheelchair is humbling and frustrating to her especially thinking of what she was able to do just months ago. However, Anne is learning to listen to and respect what her body is telling her.
At Anne’s last two check-ups, she has discussed taking a break from the chemo over the holidays. She was not able to fully enjoy the holidays last year as she was recovering from surgery. All her family will be in town. She wants to enjoy her time with them, partake in the traditions, and eat lots of food! She began planning their traditional Christmas brunch back in June. It gave her something to look forward to and reminded her what she was fighting for.
Taking a break is not an easy decision to make. Her cancer is so aggressive, will the tumors grow during the break, undoing everything that’s been accomplished so far? Will she even want to start again? During the break, Anne will be meeting the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance about possibly enrolling in clinical trials. Again there are many questions: Does she qualify? Do they stop what is working and try something new? Will the trials work?
Being a submariner’s wife is no easy job, and it is difficult to understand unless you have lived it. Anne is the quintessential submariner wife: unbelievably independent, resourceful, emotionally strong, and a force to be reckoned with. Submariners are completely reliant on their spouse to take care of literally every aspect of their personal lives while deployed up to six months at a time with extremely limited communication.
In the past year, Anne and Ray’s relationship has grown closer than ever as their roles reverse and she becomes reliant on him, and he takes on tasks and chores he never imagined. There is a saying in the submarine community “Love Runs Deep,” and as cheesy as I think it sounds, it is true. Submarine couples that stay together have overcome many situations and emotions that normally tear a couple apart. Knowing what Ray and Anne have already faced in their 29-year marriage, one cannot help but respect and admire their love for each other. Ray, a man of few words, has this advice to anyone whose spouse is battling cancer: Just love her.
Follow Anne’s Journey with LMS
Review: Anne did not qualify for clinical trials and started the third line of FDA approved chemotherapy for leiomyosarcoma. March 2019 I took Anne out to lunch. Moving around took great effort and focus. At the restaurant, Anne barely touched her food and...read more
Review: Anne’ chemo treatment was no longer working and the side effect pleural effusion had become unmanageable resulting in a pleural drain being placed in her lung sac. The doctors decided to give Anne a chemo break over the holidays to give her body a rest and to...read more
Review: Anne has been dealing with the ongoing side effect of pleural effusion (fluid around her lungs). After her second admission to the hospital, the doctors decided to give Anne a chemo break through the holidays. Two admissions later, a more long-term solution...read more