October arrived and we began meeting with Dr. Milind Javle and his medical oncology team. This department specializes in chemotherapy treatments involving liver, gallbladder, and bile duct cancers. Surprisingly, he had good news for us. Although Cholangiocarcinomas (CCA) have historically not responded to chemotherapy treatments, a clinical trial recently displayed positive results. When utilizing a specific combination of three drugs, these tumors have shown regression or stabilization. These terms are both considered "wins" in the cancer world. By prescribing Cody this treatment combination, Dr. Javle was confident that he could help us. We devised a plan for Co to undergo 3-4 months of chemo, rescan the liver, and (with tumor regression) present his case to the surgeons for reconsideration. If we could shrink the tumor and force it to pull away from the hepatic artery, there's a chance for surgery. So, you're saying there's a chance?  Hallelujah!

Easier said than done.

     Chemo days are easily our most dreaded day of the week. Every other Thursday between the hours of 0700 and 2200 you can find us in Pod B of the treatment center within MDA. Co is pumped with 3 separate chemotherapies, 4 total hours of pre and post hydration, 2 hours of pre-meds to *try* and prevent nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, and any other unpleasant side effect you could imagine.  These difficult days stretched into exhausting nights coupled with a long drive home makes for some grumpy and cynical newlyweds.

     The week following chemo is its own species of hell. There's nothing quite as deflating as watching your loved one writhe in pain and discomfort and not being able to do a damn thing about it.  I'm a nurse, surely there's something in my knowledge bank that can help ease some of these side effects? Nope, sure isn't'.  I've learned that chemo is a poison. This poison will help you, but first, it will try to destroy you. And that's what I've watched it do to my husband for the last six months.
Our first chemo...We had no idea what we were in for.

 If you're reading this and your husband is undergoing chemo, or any other rigorous medical treatment, please just know that you're doing a great job. Even though most days it might feel like you're not doing enough, just by being there for your spouse, you are enough. This is something I struggle with almost every day and my dear friend/mentor has to gently remind me of on a regular basis. So, this is me sending a  reminder that you are doing a fantastic job. As a wife, there is truly nothing you can do to make it better other than be there for your husband however you can, and try to not lose your sanity in the process. You have to cry, pray, do a rain dance, drink the wine, and wait for the symptoms to pass. And, they will pass...just in time for the next round.

Co's chemo cocktail consists of Abraxane, Gemcitabine, & Cisplatin. 

The chemotherapy treatment has worked wonders for Co's tumor. Over the last six months, the evil egg has shrunk to roughly half the initial size and has maintained at that smaller size. Although the side effects are tortuous and treatment days are draining, we are beyond grateful for his response to treatment. The next round of scans will be presented to the surgical team in hopes of removing his cancer and getting on with our lives.  

Here's a podcast excerpt of Dr. Javle explaining Cody's cancer and treatment course.


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