The results

Today at 11 am I had a meeting with my oncologist – our first. My friend Ingrid Claassen joined me for the meeting, since Victor was too late to cancel his assessments. Ingrid has written quite a lot of patient brochures for different organizations, such as the Dutch association for general practitioners, and she is familiar with the medical terminology. A great friend to have by your side at a time like this. The sun was shining as we walked into Tergooi Hilversum.

The oncologist was a young man. As soon as we sat down, he said to me: “I have bad news. Very bad news. The cancer had spread inside your liver.” He gave me a moment to react, and I nodded. “Do you understand what this means?,” he said to me earnestly, “It means we cannot cure you.” I explained that I understood exactly what he meant and that I had seen this coming, and was prepared for this answer. He couldn’t believe I was so calm. He apologized for starting our first meeting this way, normally, he explained, we meet the patient first and then go through the process. Now, he had to start with the news that I cannot get better.

He asked if I had seen the CT scans of the liver and since I had not, he showed them to us. The scans showed a large, no a huge liver. The liver had grown past the left ribcage into the area where the heart is, and was pressing against the lungs and stomach. That explains why I have been short of breath, my longs have less space to breathe. The scans also showed darker spots spread around the liver; these are the metastases (uitzaaiingen).

Next, the oncologist asked us to get my blood analysed and then to come back. Basically, he continued, we have to start the chemo as soon as possible. It is the only way to try to reverse what is happening in the liver. It is more important to treat the liver now, than the breast. You won’t die of the breast tumor, but of the liver. He conducted a quick physical examination and asked if anything hurt. But that was not the case. Ingrid said later that while I got dressed he  told her that one cannot get used to this (meaning the bad news). Also, he was extremely surprised that I was in such good condition (which is funny, since I thought all this time that my condition was poor). That may be a blessing in disguise. He said we have no time to lose.

The doctor had discussed the results with two colleagues and agreed on the following: 3 rounds of chemo. So this wednesday will be my first day of chemo. I will get the AC chemo, at 80% strength. There is a risk that the liver cannot handle the chemo and will fail. But there is also a chance that the chemo will help to reduce the tumor size. In three weeks time, a blood test will show whether the chemo has effect. Then the second round of chemo will start. After the third round, the team will discuss the state of the liver and perhaps introduce other therapies. In the meantime, I can eat what I want as long as I don’t lose more weight. So I think I’ll add some french fries to my diet of vegetables and oatmeal! He stressed that it was very important to be honest at all times. I could ask anything but I should stay clear of unconfirmed stories and sources. He also stressed I should not take any form of vitamin supplements since it could interfere with the working of the chemo and could cloud the results.

We had to come back at 1 pm to talk to the nurse about the chemo, so we had a chance to have a bite to eat. I was starving, so no issue there.

The nurse was kind and explained the whole process to us. Fortunately Ingrid took copious notes because I heard what she said but couldn’t remember much. I will get a special cold cap which is meant to protect the hair roots to prevent hairloss. Also, I will get a special injection to boost the production of white blood cells. Next, we went to the drug counter to pick up the anti-sickness medication. I made a joke that I always thought Victor ran the risk of liver disease because he likes to drink whiskey and wine (he stopped drinking btw) and now here I was with a near-liver-failure. She thought I took it all very lightly. Well, I’ve decided whether I have weeks or months or years to live, I’m going to make the best of it and I mean to have as good a time as I can possibly have. Carpe diem! Onwards we go!
Afterwards we had a very nice tea and cheesecake in the tea house in the woods, where my mom, sister , Barbara, Valentine and Flo were waiting. Although it was raining, it was still very fun! So much for now.

28 Replies to “The results”

  1. Dear Sheila,
    I just read the terrible news you got. As we spoke about you yesterday with good friends, she told me about a friend having had similar liver problems and that she was cured!
    So there is always hope that the treatment can attack those nasty cells.
    Meanwhile we think about you and Victor and i will send all my positive power to you.
    A big hug,

    Annemarie Enters

  2. Lieve Sheila,
    Wat een schrik en wat een moed heb je! Veel sterkte voor jou en Victor de komende periode.
    Liefs, Ellen M.

  3. Tja Sheila wat moet je hier op zeggen.
    Ik vind je reuze sterk en dapper.

    Heel heftig allemaal hoor.
    Lfs. Marijke

  4. Hoi Shiel,
    Even met Mevr Mensdorff gepraat
    Zijn zei je lever heeft geen cerosis? … dus de chemo is super belangrijk…als het aanslaat kan je lever weer kleiner worden en functioneren. Ze zei think positive! Erg moeilijk en belangrijk, ze vroeg ook vragen over estrogen receptors enzo, maar ver boven mijn kennis…


    1. Lieve Sheila,

      Wat een slecht nieuws heb je vandaag gekregen:(
      Als ik je zo lees, dan heb ik enorm veel bewondering voor je positieve instelling. Wat een sterke vrouw ben jij!
      Ik wil je veel sterkte wensen met alle behandelingen die je moet ondergaan.

      Hou je haaks,

  5. Lieve Sheila,
    Met grote schok heb ik dit alles gelezen en kan ik niet anders zeggen, dat je zó dapper bent!! Ik zal met je meeleven/lezen en als ik ook maar iets voor je kan doen, laat het me weten goed? Ik stuur je mijn kracht en liefde en wens je heel veel sterkte!!!
    Liefs Roos

  6. Hoi Sheila,
    Wat een slecht nieuws. Er zijn geen woorden voor! Sterkte met de eerste chemo as. woensdag.
    Mocht de hoofdhuid koeling niet werken en je wordt kaal, dan is een Toupim misschien een optie ipv een pruik. Mijn vriendin Marianne heeft dit recent uitgezocht.

    groetjes Cees

  7. Hoi Sheila,

    😦 ik lees al het commentaar en daarin staat eigenlijk al wat ik wil zeggen.. geen woorden voor dit slechte nieuws.
    Heel veel sterkte! zeker ook morgen.
    Diep respect voor de kracht die je toont.


  8. Lieve Sheila,

    Was gister sprakeloos.
    Sta versteld hoe goed jullie dit op lijken te pakken. De wereld staat wel helemaal op zijn kop!
    Ik zal aan je denken, woensdag. Liefs van ons, Mariette

  9. Sheila ~

    I am extremely sadden to hear of this news. How horrible… You are a beautiful, strong, and enduring women as I have always remembered. Keep the faith, trust in the Lord, and the medical team. Medicine is amazing these days, and who knows what the dear Lord has in store for you. I don’t know how I can help from the States, but please know that you are in my thoughts, prayers, and will be my inspiration as I follow your journey. May the Lord bless you and your family, and keep you comfortable. With all my love, Val Kschinka Mason. ASH 1988.

  10. Lieve Sheila en Victor,
    Ook ik wens jullie heel veel sterkte toe en veel hoop op betere tijden.
    Manja en Ad.

  11. Hallo Sheila, wat een vreselijk nieuws! Ben er erg van geschrokken. Weet niet zo goed hoe ik hierop moet reageren. Wat heb je toch al veel moeten doorstaan. Ik wens jou en natuurlijk ook Victor (ook namens Rob en Ralph) heel erg veel sterkte de komende periode. Houd moed!!
    Groetjes, Marga

  12. Sheila, your positive attitude is phenomenal and will definitely help get you through this! Sending fabulous thoughts your way!

  13. Dear Sheila,

    Yesterday I drove back home from Groningen, just after I read your blog update. Fortunately the roads were sort of empty, since 1) it was past 22.00, 2) the whole world is on holiday, 3) no-one wants to live in Groningen anyway. And that was good, since I couldn’t really concentrate after I read your news. Couldn’t get my mind off it. Couldn’t (and still can’t) find the words to express myself. I might be (some kind of) writer then, in situations like these I’m completely useless.
    But I was stunned by the way you handle all this. I truly admire you for that. I’m not sure if I would have the strength you’re showing now to cope with a situation like this. But I AM sure that your strength, your willpower, your optimism (never, ever lose it!) and the support of all the people around you will get you through! It is great to hear that Victor, Nancy, Ellen and so many other people are there for you.

    I will be thinking of you.
    Wishing you all the best,


  14. Even voor de zekerheid Sheila, mijn mail werkt niet (of liever gezegd hij doet het at random, heel onhandig). Telefoon/sms is wel up and running. We hebben morgen nog even contact, ok?

  15. Sheila, Veel sterkte woensdag. Ongelofelijk knap hoe je hier mee omgaat. En heel bijzonder dat je al je nieuws met ons deelt. Dank je wel.

  16. Lieve Sheila,

    Ik lees net je slechte nieuws en weet eigenlijk niet wat te schrijven.
    Ik wens je morgen alle sterkte toe.
    Ik denk aan je en probeer me voor te stellen hoe je je moet voelen.
    Veel sterkte voor jullie allebei.

  17. Dear Sheila, I am sorry to hear the news of your cancer. your positive attitude is great and I really believe that this will give you great courage in your fight against cancer, I also believe your positive personality will help your recovery.
    I have someone close to me who has been having chemo treatment for quite a few months and the first few days after can be very tough and make you negative but this feeling does go after the first week, I want you to remember in tough moments that it will get better. I am telling you this because after the rain comes the sun even when the rain is heavy n feels never ending. I will be sending you sunny vibes and hope to read about your recovery on your blog.
    Love Anju (nancy and nataschas’ friend)

  18. Lieve Sheila,

    Wat ben je toch dapper! Heel veel sterkte met de chemo. Je ziet er vast prachtig uit met je nieuwe haircut.



  19. Sheila,
    ik heb grote bewondering voor de kracht die je hebt om te vechten tegen je ziekte. Bijzonder toch, iedereen is bezig omstandigheden te creeeren die als doel hebben gelukkig en gezond te zijn en te blijven. En juist als het heel anders loopt dan gepland, kan je de juist de grootste rijkdom vinden en daardoor veel meer aan dan je denkt! Dat vind ik enorm knap van je. Sterkte de komende tijd.
    liefs, Madelon

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