Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Battle Lines Drawn

One of the lovely New Orleans "Steamboat" Houses

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll remember being introduced to Wendy in December, 2012 (Ready to Be Restored). She’s the young mom diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. You met her soon before her first stage of breast reconstruction, and she was raring to go! Especially after many months of chemo, surgery, radiation, and more chemo. Then we visited with her again in March, 2013 (On Her Way or Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler). She’d completed her first surgery, the results of which she described as “amazing.” She felt a self-confidence in her appearance that she’d been lacking for a long time and was excited for the next stage of reconstruction. Her second stage went equally well—her results are beautiful. All she needs now are her nipple tattoos, and she will be able to join the “All Done” club!

Chalmette battlefield
So on my annual October pilgrimage to New Orleans, and after all our e-mails, messaging, and phone conversations during the course of the year, Wendy and I were determined to finally meet up in person. I was excited! She also thought it would be a great idea for our husbands to talk as well, since guys usually don’t have much of a support system when dealing with breast cancer. But I was worried after she e-mailed that she wouldn’t be having her nipple tattoos done that month, as planned. I knew that anything interfering with those finishing touches on her breast reconstruction must be very serious and probably bad. Which it was. She’d had a second occurrence of metastatic breast cancer in her bones.

Wendy and her husband picked us up in the French Quarter, in front of Muriel’s restaurant. Wendy is an absolutely lovely young woman. And not just by virtue of her youth and vitality, but literally quite beautiful, with brown hair, clear blue eyes, and an engaging smile and personality. She and her husband drove us on a fascinating tour of New Orleans sites we’d never seen before, including Chalmette National Monument, where the Battle of New Orleans—the last great battle of the War of 1812—was fought against the British. Andrew Jackson and his men earned the statue and the Square in the French Quarter for prevailing in the face of a much larger and more experienced army.  Wendy also showed us the Versailles live oaks in St. Bernard Parish, the magnificent "Steamboat" Houses at Lizardi and Egania Streets, and the WWI memorial on Burgundy. We topped off the tour with a delicious BBQ lunch at The Joint in the Bywater neighborhood, after which she and I enjoyed our extended show-and-tell in the ladies room, while the husbands had some alone time. She is still so happy she had her breast reconstruction. And I can personally attest to her fabulous results. I mean seriously!
"The Joint"

Fortunately Wendy has some very good news to report, too. She was accepted into a clinical drug trial at M.D. Anderson that shows lots of promise. This does require that she and her husband make a monthly drive to Houston to receive the medication—in pill form—and for monitoring. Unfortunately with clinical trials, some of the subjects do not receive the experimental drug, but instead, just a placebo. Wendy was told she had a 2 in 3 chance of receiving the treatment. But as it turned out, it appears that she is receiving the drug! In Wendy’s words: “It is just so crazy and wonderful that this clinical trial fell into my lap at the right time. I know I will overcome this, as I do have faith that there is a cure for this disease."

Wendy's January report was very good. Her scans show her cancer is stable. She will continue the trial, returning to Houston monthly, with new scans in April. As a postscript, I have learned some new lingo, which I passed on to Wendy. The ladies on the Stage 4 cancer threads on say - when their cancer is stable - that they are "dancing with the stable boy." When their cancer status is "no evidence of disease," they are "dancing with NED." Here's hoping that Wendy and her new drug artillery find her as successful as Andrew Jackson at Chalmette, and graduating from dancing with the stable boy to dancing with her husband far into their golden years.

1 comment:

  1. I remember you mentioning a visit to the Chalmette Monument on one of your visits to New Orleans, and I know you love Muriel's Café! We discovered it about a year and a half ago. I wish Wendy the best!