December 27, 2015
We've got some pretty major news that has all come about very recently. Being open with the news is helping us to tackle the challenges ahead.
After Michelle began experiencing persistent abdominal pain in November, early in December we learned that she has a large tumor near her pancreas. Over the past few weeks, we've been going through tests to try to figure out what it is.
Here's what we know:
- We know that it's cancer (carcinoma). There are "cytologically malignant cells" present.
- We know that it has spread. Cancers of this type and location generally have by the time that they cause symptoms and are discovered.
- We know that it's causing pretty severe abdominal and back pain, digestion issues, and it now affects her ability to lie down.
Here's what we don't know:
- We don't know what type of cancer it is. This is called "cancer of unknown primary", which is a sort of diagnosis of uncertainty. We've been suspecting pancreatic or peritoneal cancer, but the tests (CT, PET, FNA biopsy) have been inconclusive, and the hereditary info doesn't line up.
- Thus, we don't know how to treat the illness. A particular type of chemotherapy (platinum-based, as used for ovarian/peritoneal cancer) was on the table, but is now back off until we know more. So far, only lots of pain meds (and some other meds to deal with the side effects of those) are in play.
Our case has already been part of a multidisciplinary tumor review board, so we have had folks with a variety of backgrounds and expertise involved. Our oncologist here in Portland recommended now that we get a second, external opinion and widen our scope geographically in order to best figure out what we're dealing with and how to treat it.
Our next steps are to try to be seen at Oregon Health Sciences University here in Portland, University of Washington Medicine in Seattle, and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
We'll update this page as we know more. If you'd like to say hi, reach out to us on Twitter (@mpetruzzi79 and @incanus77) or by email. We're doing ok right now, but we are keeping in mind how people can help us out if things get tougher in the future.
One thing that we are trying to do is to keep Michelle's Facebook (Justin is no longer on it) fairly absent of conversations around this, as Facebook provides a good, positive distraction right now from all that is going on, and Facebook also has tendencies to be emotionally consuming with any sort of thing of this nature. Again, best to reach out by email or Twitter.
Our spirits remain high. Please keep us in your thoughts. We will beat this.