As is for most families, December has been an extremely busy month in the Richards household. While we managed to squeeze in as many festivities and holiday cheer as we could, it was difficult to stifle the dispirited undertone. We were met with devastating news at Dow's follow up with his neurosurgeon. Not only is there tumor regrowth, but it has grown back at an alarming pace. It has spread deeper within the brain and is now in an inoperable location. In just a few short weeks, I have seen Dow's condition steadily deteriorate. By this, I mean his pre existing symptoms have amplified and he has started having morning nausea due to increased headaches. His left-sided paresthesia has worsened, as well as his vision. He struggles with time concept and his level of anxiety and agitation have seemed to increase. Brain tumors are very similar to Alzheimer's in respect that the patient, sometimes is unaware of a change in physical and/or mental status. This can be quite challenging and frustrating for family, friends, as well as the patient. Recognizing the root of the change can be half the battle. This is such a multifactorial disease that any number of symptoms can come, go, or stay without any warning and without any obvious culprit. Our experience with this has been a moderate one. It's taken a lot of trial and error to figure out how to navigate when these situations arise and it's definitely a work in progress.
The Sturm und Drang that 2014 has brought us has felt sometimes unbearable. This ebb and flow has helped me learn to temper my emotions and have brought me closer to a sense of acceptance as the new year approaches. The most difficult thing to accept is that this particular disease is very rare, and completely random. There are no genetic predispositions, you can't "New Year's Resolution" your way out of an "at-risk" behavior. This could be anyone-but it's us. I know our lives will never be the same and I know how heartbreaking it is for Dow to watch himself transform and to see the affect it has on everyone around him. I also know that while many things are different, his heart and soul are still the same. This is not something any of us chose. Cancer happens.