Emily Update - 10.20.17

Dispatches from Emilyland:


October 20, 2017-Emily received many wonderful birthday greetings from you all. My birthday gift to her was a report that detailed Toby’s lineage through DNA testing (Boston Terrier, Chihuahua, Pug, and other mixed terriers). Though Emily has never been a big fan of evolutionary psychology, that seems to have changed when rationalizing Toby’s misbehavior as breed specific and immutable.



October 20-22, 2017-Our third poetry weekend in Inverness with our poetry weekend friends, Sunny Bates and Maria Popova and a special extra guest, the wonderful poet Jane Hirshfield. 



October 25, 2017-Emily wakes up and has double vision, decides it’s no big deal. Abby call doctors secretly while Emily is taking a nap.  Doctors advise medical assessment at the emergency room immediately. Emily wakes up and thwarts this idea. Emily calls doctor’s office to explain to them why she doesn’t need to go to the ER. Finally Emily realizes that she has lung cancer.


On the way to the ER:

Emily-I can’t believe I didn’t think of a brain tumor! Of course!  Lung cancer often metastasizes to the brain! Why didn’t I think of that?!


Abby: Probably because you have a brain tumor.


In ER: A snippet of Bhrams’ lullaby played over the hospital PA system.

Emily: (To nurse) Is that for me?


Nurse: Oh, that means a baby has been born. Most hospitals do it.


Emily: What do the play when someone dies? (Actually, suggestions welcome on this one. Emily thinks maybe “Hit the Road, Jack” would be a good choice.)


October 26-November 1, 2017

After MRI, PET, CT scan ER doctor, oncologist, ophthalmologist, radiologist, and neurosurgeon agree that there is a VERY SMALL brain tumor that will be treated with 5 sessions of radiation over 2 weeks. The oncologist also thinks the tumor might have caused a seizure which would explain why Emily remembers almost nothing about a minor accident with a parked car a few days earlier.


Emily: I don’t think I’ll tell the car insurance company about the possible seizure.


Abby: Why would you even consider telling them that?!


Emily: Because I’m chatty?


The streets of Berkeley just got a little safer because Emily is not allowed to drive for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that she just re-took - AND PASSED – her drivers’ test. (Emphasis Emily’s)





Because of the location of the tumor (brain) and how the medication works (is significantly weakened getting past blood/brain barrier) this tumor is not an indication that her treatment is not effective. In fact, the PET (body) scan showed no cancer growth and even some shrinkage in a few spots. I can’t say for sure that the Kaytruda (the thing that Jimmy Carter took) is working. I can say Emily has developed a keen interest in construction and all things related to building houses. This is one of those times (admittedly infrequent) where malignant brain tumor is the best case scenario, so we are very pleased with the outcome.



We so appreciate everyone’s caring and concern. One of the benefits of this process (cancer) is that we get to be in closer contact with the people we love. It is such a joy to strengthen those connections. Please know that we share information as soon as it makes sense to do so. If we haven’t sent an update, that means that not that not much has happened.





Abigail SimsComment