About Me

Kathryn Bradley was born on 2/5/91 and given a Hawaiian name Kahiwalani meaning "Gift From Heaven" She has been a special gift from the day she was born.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life After Chemo

Life After Chemo
Life was good after chemo.  Kathryn returned to regular activities and the only way anyone would know that she was a brain tumor survivors would be to see her scare.  It’s about 6 inches long and there is a bald area on the back of her head.  She recovered remarkably.

All through elementary she did very well in school.  she played soccer for a few years and became a Brownie.  She had lots of friends.  She earned academic awards through out elementary too. The most outstanding math student over all in her 5th grade class.  She moved on to middle school and excelled.  High school started at Stadium in Tacoma and again she did outstanding.  She spend the last three years of high school at the Tacoma School of the Arts.  Here she learned to tone her artistic abilities.  Her designs and artwork are so beautiful.

During her school years she also spent a great deal of time focused on Cancer.  She was on a Relay for Life team since she was 9.  In high school she formed her own team and called it Cids Against Kancer Everywhere.  Each year she designed the t-shirts for the team.  She wrote numerous papers on cancer and her whole senior project was for cancer.  She designed about 6 different t-shirts that related to finding a cure and sold them around the time of Relay for Life.  All of the proceeds went to the American Cancer Society.  She also works for Unique Beverage sponsoring cancer related events.  As she went off to college she became a committee member for the Western Washington University Relay for Life.  She is also involved in The ACS’s Camp Goodtimes.  She and her brother started as campers back when Kathryn was 9.  They didn’t even want to go.  Now both of them give up 20 days each summer to volunteer at each of the two weeks of camp offered each summer.   This is where the name Panda comes from.  Every staff members gets a name that they use at Camp.
Now you have some history.  Kathryn set off to college in September of 2009 after earning a4.0 in high school and a couple of scholarships.  Her goal was to become a child life specialist in the oncology department.  She wanted to help kids with cancer.  Her first year of college was going just fine until April.  She called me with the news that her right hand wasn’t working correctly.  It would throws things and she would drop things.  Her writing became difficult.  I told her we needed to make an appointment for an MRI immediately.  So two days later (4/17/2010) we were in the  hospital.  We left and went shopping and then received the call.  I guess we already knew what they were going to say.  Yes, there was something.  The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday the 27th of April.  It took about 4 hours and to my surprise she was alert and smiling when I went to her room in the ICU.  I was not expecting her to even be awake.

Continued



After Kathryn’s remarkable recovery from surgery She went home on Friday.  That would be the fourth day including the day of surgery.  Whiel she recovered in the hospital friends came to visit and we would all party in the waiting room.  She also did homework to keep up on her classes.  Her altimate goal was to go back to college up in Bellingham.  During one of the visits by the nueosurgeon’s PA she said Kathryn would probably never drive again.  I told her she couldn’t tell Kathryn this.  So, we told her it was just standard procedure for all brain surgery patients to wait 6 weeks and see.  It is true.  We waited 6 weeks and when Kathryn asked the surgeon if she could drive he said, “Do you think you can drive?”  Of course she said yes and he gave her the green flag to go.  Well she headed back to school on Monday and I went with her (Mom).  I went to classes with her to take notes.  I attended her biology lab and wrote and drew wonderful pictures in her lab book for her.  She turned in home work to her psycology professor and he was amazed that she did this work right after brain surgery.  He said she know more than 90% of the class.  He was amazed.  Now Kathryn was trying to get caught up in all of her classes.  She talked to all of her professors and had arrangements all made.  I think she finally realized that going to college and getting radiation every day was not going to work.  She dropped two of three classes and took and extension on one.  Two of the classes she dropped she took on line over the summer.  So she only really fell behind by one class (biology).  During this spring Kathryn was also working on the Relay for Life at Western Washington University.  She was a committee member.  She was also supposed to be the lead into the luminaria by being the Speaker as a survivor.  She really had not shared her new situation with many people and she just broke down on the stage.  I spoke for her with her story as a survivor but also introduced her new situation with cancer. 
This cancer …  When you read about a glioblastoma you get pretty depressed.  There was no good news anywhere.  Scott (Dad) found a website that at least had some hope.  Everywhere else was doom and gloom.  I (Mom) cried daily.  Many times a day.  I searched for an answer and found some hope through a doctor at Duke.
Kathryn came home from Western in May after many trips from Lakewood to Bellingham.  She did 35 rounds of radiation and became tired but made it through.  The little old men and women she saw at radiation gave her strength.  She probably gave them strength too.  She enjoyed her summer from July 7th until August 16th free of treatments.  Then she started the Irrinotecan, Avastin and temodar.  When school started Richard (brother) would dirver her down to Tacoma every other week for treatment and then they would drive right back up.  I don’t know how she had the stamina to keep going to school but she did.  She just wanted to be “normal”.  She did a great job of it too.  The school year went well for her.  Some times treatments days were rough but she always pulled through.  She had a good summer and took another class to get completely caught up from the year before.  In September she started out on track with her credits.  She was determined not to fall behind and graduate in four years. 
On September 22nd she was down for an MRI.  She said she had started walking funny.  It was like she couldn’t walk straight.  The MRI showed something but they were unsure of what it was.  We had heard this before.  I knew and I’m sure Kathryn knew that the tumor had found it’s way back.  She went back to school and continued life the same tumor or no tumor.  On October 13th another MRI which was still inconclusive and then a spetrostomy on Monday the 17th which confirmed tumor growth.  We didn’t need the scan to tell us.  On the 19th Kathryn asked her doctor how long?  He confirmed what she really ment before answering.  She said, “How long do I have to live?”  She was given 3 to 6 months.  We were devistated.  How does anyone take that news without worry.  She had her stiff upper lip in place and was determined to stay strong.  This time she realized going to school was not an option because getting around was becoming unsafe.  She had stopped driving on her own.  It was like we were all sentenced to death.  She did take a big fall in the tub one day.  Shortly after this Scott placed the rail in the bathroom for her.  He cried as he cleaned it up and prepared to put it in place.  He said I should not be doing this for my daughter.  He is right.  The kids should be doing something like this for us down the road.  But it had to be done and has helped give Kathryn safety and independence. 
A friend called us and had us watch a movie about the Bruzynski clinic.  I had heard of it before and half heartedly looked into it.  This time it was our only hope.  Kathryn didn’t qualify for any trials and there were no other treatments for her condition.  So we flew to Houston (a whole new world).  We were treated great there and the treatment had good numbers behind it (better than we were given).  It was hope.  But Kathryn’s little body just wasn’t working correctly.  Everytime she would get started she would have to come off the treatment because of low platelet counts.  It was frustrating to us and her doctor in Houston.  We continued even on a very low dose.  Now we know the treatment didn’t cause the platelets to drop because they continue to drop even off treatment.  While in Houston Kathryn planned her Christmas party.  I don’t know how many of you noticed that she called it her send off party.  It is what you are thinking.  She also put together our Christmas card and letter.  These were important things for her to get done.  She made a couple of Luminarias for friends.  She didn’t get to finish list yet.  When we retuned home on the 3rd we had to plan for this party.  Some of Kathryn’s friends had taken down all the fall/Halloween decorations for us.  This was a huge help.  We had to unpack, put away the fall stuff, put up Christmas lights and decorations.  A tree had to be found and decorated..  Lots of things needed to be done.  Our friends and family helped up pull it all together.  We had one BIG party on December 10th.  Kathryn had a wonderful time!
Now we are here and this really stinks.  But once again we have had people support us so strongly and with such conviction that is makes us get all choked up every time we think about it.  A speghetti dinner raised over $4,200 for us.  This was down through Carol’s school and the FBLA club.  The track rats (Scott’s track buddies) have contributed money and have been so supportive.  One man Dennis helped us set up this blog.  He has been helping us all along the way.  We may be in a bad situation but the love we feel and the support we get form our family and friends is far beyond our imaginations.  Cancer is bad but with it comes good from so many people.
We continued with the treatment from the Burzynski clinic and continued to have problems with her platelet counts. At least here the clinic could do a transfusion quickly and we would only have to miss one infusion of the treatment.  Kathryn was on a very small amount of the treatment and only one part of the two parts.  They were trying to figure out what may be causing her platelets to drop.  Now that I think about it much later it was probably the tumor.  Things seemed to be going ok until the 23rd of December.  All of a sudden her sodium was 122 which is very low and dangerous.  The Burzynski clinic told us to get a transfusion right now.  We went to the clinic and they redid the labs thinking maybe we made a mistake in how we drew the blood.  We didn't.  It was hard to believe that her sodium would drop so drastic from 145 on Wednesday.  The thought was maybe just adding a lot of salt and restricting fluids would increase the sodium.  It didn't.  The next day our labs indicated that the sodium was now only 113 which now we know can cause a seizer.  We went to the emergency room and they could not believe the sodium level.  They ran the labs again.  At 113 Kathryn should not have been talking clearly and she was.  She should have been seizing and she wasn't.  When we were went to the ICU they started an IV drip of sodium at a very high level but it need to go in slow because raising the sodium level too quickly can also cause seizers.  They also did an MRI since we had one scheduled for the next week.  I found it interesting because her tumor had grown less from Nov 3rd to Dec 24th then it had from Oct 17th to Nov 3rd. It had grown 34% and the before it had grown over 50% in two weeks.  There was also a comment that there was treatment response.  Also some of the areas had completely cleared up.  The treatment was working even at such a small amount.  But now we are in the hospital and can't continue on the treatment.  In the morning of the 25th (Christmas Day) her sodium was still very low and at a dangerous level.  Still in the afternoon very low and at 7:30 pm just after sharing her turkey dinner with me while we sat in bed together she had a seizer.  She was sitting up and she clinched her little fist tight and her teeth were clinched and her little body was shaking hard.  I said she is having a seizer and yelled out "Molly".  She was Kathryn's nurse and she had just walked out of the room.  She was there in an instand. with several others.  As she calmed and it looked as though she was going to be just fine she went into a second seizer.  The room was filled with people instantly.  They gave her a shot and then she couldn't breath.  We were asked if we wanted them to incubate her and we all looked at each other and said yes of course.  She was out and they tried to put the breathing tube in.  It took three tries before they could get it in.  This probably caused some damaged to her throat.  A few days later they tried to take out the breathing tube.  Everyone was expecting Kathryn to do just fine.  We were all wrong.  When they took it out she immediately said in a whispering voice,"I can't breath."  Her face was turning purple and her nails were turning purple.  She could not breath.  All we could do is stay out of the way as the room filled with very capable people.  They bagged her and also put her out and again we were asked about life support.  Again we said yes.  This time they got the anetheseologist to do the tube.  He did it with ease.
Now the battle to get her home began.  Kathryn wanted to get home and we wanted nothing more than to get her home.  The trach was put in.  She would practice breathing without the machine and do well.  Finally she was allowed to breath on her own all night and she did just fine.  We did this for a few nights and then she was allowed to go home.  All she needed was oxygen not a machine to breath for her.  if she needed any kind of breathing machine it would have taking two to three more weeks to get her home.  We knew we didn't have time for that.  Thank goodness she could breath on her own so she could go home.  The rest is in the blog.

2 comments:

  1. Kathryn is an amazing person, she has always been full of love and joy and Had wonderful sense of humor. One of the most determined and strong people I am blessed to know. I wish that I could have spent more time around her and the whole Bradley family in these past couple years. Absolutely wonderful people whom I still love very much and have been some of the greatest people in my life. I think of Kathryn everyday and wish to hear of her feeling well and being home again. She deserves it, she has been such a trooper, such an amazing inspiring person.
    - Mia

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  2. Thanks for posting this. Kathryn is one resillent gal! As is Carol, Scott and Richard. It must run in the family. I hope you are all able to enjoy some extra quality time together this New Year's Eve. Love to all, Pineapple

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