Posts Tagged 'updates'

Still around…

Hi guys. I know it’s been a while since I’ve personally posted.  That’s actually good news, because it means that Geraldine is healthy enough to be able to keep the updates coming on her own!  Don’t get me wrong, she’s still weak, but she is growing stronger every day.  Thanks to all of you for your support. I’m still around, and if she’s ever unable to send updates in the future, rest assured that I’ll be keeping you posted. Let’s hope that day never comes.

On a side note, there is still much more to this story. She will have plenty of challenges to blog about in the near future. One that I know of is her desire to get back to work, and as you can imagine, this is a tough time to re-enter the job market. Best of luck with that!

Congratulations on your progress, G-bug! Keep fighting…


Geraldine has checked out of the hospital after recovering from her second transplant. She is still in Richmond, but as of today, is no longer sleeping in a hospital bed! The apartment where she will be recovering over the next couple of weeks is about 5 minutes away from the hospital, which she had been staying in for about the last three weeks.  The good people at the MCV Massey Cancer Clinic are great, but she’s really glad to have returned to a somewhat normal environment. She’ll be visiting the hospital just about every day for blood work.

Over the past 4 or 5 days some circumstances were taking a heavy emotional toll. Due to a lack of sleep and being cut off from the rest of the world, especially her daughter, Geraldine was a wreck. It’s hard to imagine how it must feel being trapped in a hospital room while things are happening in the outside world that are beyond your control. The feeling of helplessness and futility are emotionally taxing. Even though she has visitors, it’s easy to forget that she was alone for this process.

I’m happy to report that she’s in a MUCH better mood, and although she is tired and weak, she is doing everything that she can to ensure a lightning quick recovery so that she can face the challenges that await her in the world back home. That includes removing and avoiding any and all sources of stress from her life over the next couple of weeks.

For our newest visitors…

Welcome to the site. In case you’d like to catch up, I’d start with this post. It is a letter written by Andrew, who is Geraldine’s father. It really nicely sums up the situation before we started this blog.

Other helpful historical information to have on hand is that this site was created and is maintained by Geraldine’s friends Nick, Pete, and Malcom (that’s me). Nick and Pete worked on the design, hosting, and setup of the site. They worked especially hard to get the donation utilities built. I am the main poster here, and am always sure to provide updates when Geraldine is unable. We are in this because we promised our friend that her story would be chronicled, no matter what the outcome may be, so that her daughter would have a record of everything that happened.

We work on this project, as always, in our spare time.

Currently, Geraldine is undergoing her second bone marrow transplant. The first one ended only a few weeks ago, and took about a month and a half. She has been fighting this battle for about a year and a half at this point. She hates being away from her daughter for too long, but she loves it when you leave her notes of encouragement. Please note, however, that some comments are moderated on an as-needed basis.

Thank you for your continued support.

Don’t forget to check out this post! It’s very helpful.

Update: Unexpected Pain

Geraldine is doing much better as of Saturday.  Her pain is down to about a 4, but the morphine patch is causing some mild nausea. She has to stay on top of her many pills for that, but it is controllable. Speaking with her today, she seems to be in a much better place.

They gave her another PET scan today, the results of which will be read first thing Monday morning before they perform the surgery for the catheter that will be used for the stem cell transplant. If the scan is normal, everything will proceed on schedule. Someone will post an update either way at some point on Monday.

Unexpected pain

Geraldine is having a very rough time right now. Out of the blue, her pain spiked up to about a 9 on the scale of 10 yesterday. By the evening, it was a 10. She had to get a morphine patch to take the edge off. She’s also very nauseous and in so much pain she can’t really talk a lot. You might recall that she has a pretty high threshold for pain, so a 9 and 10 are seriously debilitating.

I can’t go see her at the moment because I have a cold/virus that I’m almost over. She is neutropenic, meaning that she has a low white blood cell count which results in a severely weakened immune system. Her platelets are also low, which means she will bleed and bruise easily – the blood has a hard time clotting. I’ve been trying to research some sort of therapeutic treatment for alleviation of this pain. Getting a massage is out of the question because of the bruising.

I’ve started researching acupuncture, but was worried about the bleeding from the needles. There are techniques that don’t involve needles, which I am also looking into.

I’ve checked the National Cancer Institute’s website, and they somewhat endorse or acknowledge that acupuncture and other techniques are commonly used to treat nausea, vomiting, and pain from cancer and chemotherapy. I am checking the backgrounds and availability of some reputable, certified acupuncturists in the area today.

We will likely use the money we raised from for this, but may need to begin a fresh round of fundraising after this.

I’m letting you guys know this because she needs encouragement, support, and anything else that can be done, now more than ever. Stress is making this worse on her because it has a direct correlation to her pain. Anyone who has talked to her over the past week can see that.

They are worried that her cancer has come back out of remission and may delay or even cancel her stem cell transplant. There has been some surprise and concern from the medical staff at how aggressive this has suddenly become. One possibility is that the cancer has come back out of remission and is now resistant to the ICE chemo regimen. She may be going for a donor transplant instead, which is more dangerous and lengthy. There is a lot of uncertainty and we simply don’t know what the next step is at this time.

Obviously, she is very scared at the moment. We all are. I wish there were better news, but I will keep you up to date as things unfold.

Update: Round 3 of ICE chemo

Geraldine recently completed the third round of ICE chemo and is currently at home regaining her strength. As with the other two times, she was in the hospital for three straight days as the toxin was administered to her. It really wiped her out for a while, and she is barely back on her feet. The last time, it took her ten days to recover. There’s simply no estimate for how long this time will take, but as always, your comments here are extremely motivational to her and really aid in the recovery process.

Also, we should have news of the costs on the double autologous stem cell transplant and its uncovered costs soon. Things may begin moving fast with her treatment. We’ll keep you posted. Until then, let her know that you’re thinking about her by clicking on the comments link above.

Status report – chemo and donations

Geraldine and Vivi

Geraldine and Vivi

Geraldine is currently undergoing her third ICE chemotherapy treatment session – which lasts three days and is administered in a hospital – and is definitely feeling run down already.  She’ll be out after Thursday, and probably out of touch for a bit after that as she recovers from it.  I’ll be posting a separate update for everyone once she gets home and begins getting her strength back.

I want to thank everyone for their comments. These all mean so much to her, they keep her going when she feels alone. Please continue to leave comments whenever you can, even if you can’t donate.

Speaking of donations – wow – you guys have really blown everyone’s expectations away. Thank you for your generous contributions. All donations, no matter how small or large, are very much appreciated. At this point, we’ve raised over $4k, and still going strong.

Someone from this site will be posting more details about how the money will be spent, but I wanted everyone to know a few things about their donations. The first is that we’re trying to hire a lawyer or CPA to help us set up a non-profit organization. At this point, none of the money donated has been used for anything, and I believe the reason for this is that Geraldine wishes to make this process completely transparent to her contributors by documenting exactly what the money will be spent on.

Secondly, I’d like for everyone to know that there may be a large cost looming on the horizon for the clinical trial she is undertaking in the near future (the double autologous transplant). Part of this transplant may not be covered by the insurance company, leaving her with an approximate $50,000.00 bill.  When I have more info on this, I will let everyone know, and we will set a clear fundraising goal for this procedure.

Lastly, we’ve all decided on what will happen after she’s free and clear of cancer.  Geraldine and her friends will attempt to form an official non-profit charity to help others in their time of need. One idea that has been tossed about has been to help others that face these types of extreme illnesses. Another idea is to release the code for the donation and tracker widgets as free, open source modules so that others can use these tools for their fundraising efforts. These are just concepts at this point but it is in our plan to do something with this site and any money left over once she has won this fight.

When Geraldine can’t update you, one of us will. Please keep checking back, please keep those encouraging comments coming, and please forward this site on to others.

Thank you

Update: Round 2 of ICE chemo

Geraldine just underwent three intense days in Norfolk General Hospital in her second round of ICE chemotherapy.  She is feeling very tired, and has been in bed for a couple of days since that time.  As you can see by her previous post, all of her hair fell out before she went through this round of chemo.  Her appetite and energy level seem to be a bit increased this time vs. the first round. She’ll probably be up and about by the end of the week.

Her spirits are low, so it would be a good time to call, text, or leave comments here.

Update: Round 1 of ICE Chemo

Geraldine’s first round of ICE chemotherapy concluded on Friday evening, August 8. For nearly a week, she was mostly bedridden, nauseous, and extremely fatigued. As of today, she is slowly coming out of her “chemo coma” as she calls it.

A very real danger is that she may become Neutropenic, which basically means that she is “more susceptible to bacterial infections and without prompt medical attention, the condition may become life-threatening.”

It’s a shame, because just as she is feeling better and ready to get out of the house, she’s being ordered back into isolation for the weekend.

She has also been told that in two weeks or so, her hair will completely fall out. Not just a little at a time, but all at once, in clumps.  She plans on shopping for scarves this weekend, and getting her hair cut as short as she is able to to avoid the shock.  Still, this is a major blow to one’s self-esteem, and is especially hard for a beautiful woman.

We plan on documenting the haircut and the hair-loss with a video camera. It will not be easy on her, but she has refused to let her friends shave their heads in Solidarity, stating “you don’t look all that great now, you don’t need to make it worse…” hehe.