The physical pain of the whole ordeal is only a part of it. Cancer is so emotionally and psychologically draining, both for the patient and for the caretakers. There is nothing I can even compare it to. What compounds the stress is the frustration that comes from knowing Clara has already been through so much and the treatments really have not had much of an impact on her cancer. The pathology report from her surgery simply said "treated, but viable" meaning that the tumor segments which were removed showed signs of being treated, but were still alive and well. Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? That's kind of what it feels like every time we meet with the doctors to get more bad news.
The next step after this round of chemo is to go to Seattle for a stem cell transplant, which will likely take 6-8 weeks. That will be followed by a month of radiation and seven months of immunotherapy, which one nurse described as so much worse than chemo. We have been researching alternative therapies, in hopes that we can find something that will offer Clara a better chance of survival without the horrible side effects of the traditional treatment. Sounds too good to be true, right? Clara's original diagnosis left her with a 10-15% chance of survival, based on the research we did. There has got to be a better way.
Natasha and I are both well aware that we may come to a point in Clara's treatment when we need to step back and evaluate whether or not to continue. How much can you watch your tiny child suffer before you say enough and allow her to return home to God who gave her life? Eternally, we will be reunited, but the decision to let go is beyond my personal capacity right now. In spite of the anxiety we feel, when all is quiet and I have time to ponder, I still feel the calm reassurance that everything will eventually be okay.
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