Spring Update

I’m not on my deathbed just yet! Friends are surprised when they see me out and about at a café or art gallery, looking unexpectedly well (despite also looking grotesquely pregnant), so it seems another update is in order.

The short version

I have been quite stable with palliative chemo since the winter and very happy to be feeling better as a result. I have no idea how long this will last, so I am enjoying each day as it comes!

The long version

I’ve been feeling much better since starting a second round of palliative chemo with the new year, so I knew the chemo was working. Finally in April I had a CT scan, and we were all happily surprised to learn that, though one small tumour on my bladder had grown a little, most had pretty much disappeared. My oncologist said he’d never seen this sort of shrinkage before, so he took my case to the tumour board to discuss what steps to take next. They want to look into the possibility of radiation on the one growing tumour, though it’s probably too large for that. They also want me to continue chemo, believing that if I stop, the tumours will quickly grow back, and since I have been tolerating the chemo quite well with only mild side effects, they think I can handle more.

My city garden nook for tea with friends.

But I would like to take the summer off, both to enjoy this time I have been blessed with (the whole point of the chemo) and to let my body recover. My father has made me another appointment with a specialist in this very rare disease at Sloan Kettering in New York, so we’ll see what she suggests. My guess is she’ll also recommend a break from chemo. The last two times I was in New York City to see her I was too ill to do much, so I’m hoping to still be feeling this well so I can enjoy a few days walking about the city. There is so much art to see!

The tumour news is good, and no large tumours also means less pain to manage. I can sit much more comfortably now, so I can enjoy outings to cafes and linger at the table. But I also still have malignant ascites (accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity) that cause abdominal distension, pain, and discomfort, restricting my activities somewhat (no yoga or exercise, and only a little gardening). They also indicate a very poor prognosis, as this is normally an end-stage symptom. I have other swelling too from chemo and steroids, so I’m still about twenty pounds overweight (a lot on a small person). I’ll see if I can get another drainage of the ascites, at least — a super-quick weight loss program!

Ultimately, however, I suppose the bad news negates the good news in this situation; I don’t know exactly how this disease will progress, but medical opinion is that it will.

But I am not suffering (thanks to effective pain medication!) and remain weirdly healthy, energetic, and happy.

I am especially delighted with the gift of another spring and am taking every possible moment to enjoy the flowering and greening of the world around me. I’ve been having lots of fun photographing some of the wonders of nature with that new (is a few months still considered new in the realm of technological devices?) phone that still causes me grief. It has a pretty good camera, though! You can see more of my photos on Instagram if you’re interested.

About susanbriscoe

English teacher, writer
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28 Responses to Spring Update

  1. Elly Jackson says:

    I am so uplifted with your writing, your news, your courage, your buoyancy, your fabulous photos. You are precious, and if I ever grow up I want to be like you. I am probably old enough to be your mother, but you are my role model of careful, thoughtful generous writing. Love, love, love.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’m happy to hear that you are doing so well, dispite the pesky fluid, Susan. Your photos are lovely!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hayven says:

    Your pictures are very vibrant and yet peaceful to view. Glad to hear that you are feeling well.
    Yes, these iPhones take fantastic photos and have many functions. I’m still working within the point and shoot mode.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. curioussteph says:

    I’ve been wondering how things are with you recently, Susan, and so I’m delighted with your update. Palliative chemo doing its thing, and you are enjoying spring. Lovely spring flowers. In my book, 3 months with a phone definitely qualifies as new. I was about 3 years in when I discovered the zoom feature! Admittedly only 6 months into using the camera with any regularity.
    Best wishes for continued well being. On to summer!

    Liked by 2 people

    • susanbriscoe says:

      Thanks! I had hoped this phone would have more intuitive features so I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of life figuring it out! I still can’t find my voice messages, or even answer a text properly.
      Enjoy the rest of this glorious spring!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Have a good summer, Susan. Patrick in Asheville, NC

    Liked by 2 people

  6. spyrorondos says:

    Enjoying the read even if, under the circumstances, it seems like an odd thing to say.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Cate says:

    Lovely images, Susan, and your sense of (relative) well-being just shines through this piece. Thank you! I wonder: Have you posted specifically about dealing with severe chronic or recurrent pain that medication either cannot touch or relieves only partly? I know how I feel when I have to deal with a severe toothache for long; I just want out of my body. And I’m sure that’s nothing compared to what you have experienced. How are you able to find enjoyment and the resolve to go on in the face of such pain?

    Liked by 2 people

    • susanbriscoe says:

      I haven’t posted about that kind of pain because I have been extremely fortunate in not yet experiencing it. I am certain it would test my spirit and cheerfulness, as even transient pain and unwellness has. I have read about meditating through pain (a friend sent me an article by Shinzen Young), and I know there are people who manage to enjoy life despite chronic pain. But I know it is a great challenge.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Lucie Champoux says:

    Beautiful images you have made Susan! I think a lot of you and the big challenge your body is giving you! Sorry about my english, I don’t practice a lot…Hope only good news for you and I wish you : de belles pensées d’Amour et de Lumière dans une profonde guérison du Coeur, de l’Ame, du Corps et de l’Esprit!!! with all my love…Lucie xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Marion Murphy says:

    You are amazing Susan – you live every day in such a courageous, positive way – I admire you so much and thank you for all the insights, wonderful writings and for teaching me to live each day with gratitude!! Hope you keep writing and taking pictures!!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. graphicgrub says:

    I am glad to hear that you are feeling better. It is good to live in the moment. Love budlias too.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. christi72013 says:

    Thanks Susan for sharing your thoughts, feelings and photos. I’m pleased that you’re able to enjoy your beautiful garden. I know how much you love it. Sending some Love from me to you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Perpetua says:

    I am so glad you are alive and doing well. Was about to contact your partner’s blog to check up on you.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thankyou for the update Susan, lovely to hear from you and to enjoy your love of life ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Laurie Bishop says:

    You are so brave! Thank you for sharing your journey. You are an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. janfalls says:

    Such gorgeous photos Susan, a colourful reflection of your indomitable spirit. Makes me think of my friend’s comment on the quote ‘Sing while you still have voice to sing’ – (https://livingwellwithillness.com/) grateful that we have your voice singing truth and beauty to the world. love, Janice

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Phyllis Aronoff says:

    So glad to hear you’re still hanging in there and enjoying the season!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Awesome news! Awesome photos! I’m sure your great attitude has a lot to do with how well you’re doing. Interesting how a dire cancer diagnosis can give a person a fresh new outlook on life, isn’t it? Keep up the great work, you are an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • susanbriscoe says:

      Thanks! Though I have to say, it’s not really a fresh new outlook at all. I was already gratefully and fully enjoying life before I got sick. Now that I am on sick leave I do have more time to enjoy it, however!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. glendabjack says:

    Blessings Susan.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you for sharing. You reminded me of something very important that I needed to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

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