Monday, February 7, 2011


My parents were able to speak with the oncologist today, and get some questions answered. For example:

Q: Why does Mom have a huge rash that looks like a severe sunburn on her chest, throat and face?
A: It's called a "recall rash" and it's a residual result of radiation. It doesn't itch or hurt, but it does crack and bleed occasionally.

Q: When will we be able to assess if the systemic treatment is working?
A: After two full rounds of Taxol. A round is a 3 week segment of 2 weeks receiving treatment and 1 week rest. We are in the final week of our first treatment, which puts us at scheduling a diagnostic MRI or CT scan the first week of March.

Q: Why is Mom having trouble swallowing?
A: Good question! (Or, as the oncologist says, "that's a head scratcher.") Mom had a barium swallow test today to see if there was anything obstructing her esophagus. The good news is that there is not an obstruction. The bad news is that they don't know why it's so sore and raw. The going hypothesis is that it's also a result of radiation, but the doctor wasn't willing to bet money on that answer.

By all reports, Mom looked good today. She certainly sounded good on the phone. She ate a decent amount of breakfast (which is half a serving of cream of wheat) and five bites of pasta at dinner. One bite of salad and one bite of soup. I'm guessing she weighs about 98 pounds. But she's in good spirits, enjoying her friends and still determined to eat. She said yesterday that she wished she could eat an entire challah, but the sore throat won't let her. She's not really nauseous any more, either, so once the throat stuff clears up, she should be able to get some good calories in her before next Monday's Taxol treatment. She started taking steroids again today in hopes of clearing up the rash and I'm hoping it will help with her throat, also.

Tonight on the phone she chastised me for sounding too stressed out. So, I'm following Mother's orders and going to sleep.

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