5 December 1998

Dear Friends,

I'm writing to you from my home in Detroit. It feels great to be home even just for the weekend (Lucy 9th birthday!).

Here's a quick update. My first week of treatment in Tennessee has been good. Bill and I both like the doctor a lot and his staff too. He ordered another MRI since it had been three weeks since the last one -- the cavity from the tumor removal is smaller, there is still an enhanced area around the cavity that could be either tumor growth or more likely the formation of tissue which will eventually be scar tissue. There is one bit of enhancement that now spans from the cavity across the midline of my brain. I'm inclined to think it's nothing (MRIs measure moisture and they are apparently hard to read); Bill is worried about it. The doctor says we have to assume there is cancerous activity even growth that doesn't show on the MRI and be aggressive.

On Tuesday I had my first treatment. I had a catheter installed under my collar bone on the right side with two tubes that dangle from it. I sat beside a nice new looking machine and got the tubes hooked up to it. One draws my blood out; the other replaces my filtered blood along with saline solution and, I think, plasma. Afterwards patients tend to sit in recovery for an hour or two before leaving either on foot or in a wheelchair. I've done both.

Tuesday was the most dramatic (and frightening) day. I passed out four times! My blood pressure got so low that if they lowered my feet to the floor in a sitting position I would lose consciousness. I was the very last patient allowed out at 7 p.m. Now they are doing a few things differently and I am too (like eating a high protein breakfast). I've stayed conscious, but it's becoming clear that I won't be dancing the two step at any country bars!

What we're ultimately hoping for, I believe, is for the treatment to inflame my tumor remnants and for me to get a fever they say 103 is no big deal and 105 is just fine. (They do provide the home phone numbers of the head nurse and the doctor too.) When it's clear that I am reacting to the treatment, the doctor plans to flush my system with a chemo ingredient (a one shot dose) that's supposed to give the tumor a double-whammy. I assume I'll get laid low by that, but soon after I'll be considered finished and get to go home. Quite likely all that will happen in the third week, but there's really no way to know for sure. (Most recently the doctor said, "Oh no, if you can through this with no headaches and not even a low fever, that's great." So I'm a little confused. But I'm grateful that I really like the doctor and his whole staff, so I'm content not to think too hard and to trust their interpretation of what happens. This was what we didn't have at Ford hospital -- we felt a compulsion to always think which was exhausting.)

We'll stay in touch. I'm at the Mainstay Suites, 107 Brentwood Avenue, Brentwood, TN 37027. I can get email at <
jeanie@thewitness.org>. Bill is home in Detroit with the girls this coming week and the next. I have my best friend from pre-school with me and then my oldest sister for the last week, so I am in good hands all the way around.

Thanks for your continuing love, prayers and support. It means everything.

Jeanie (Bill, Lydia and Lucy)