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Where in the World is Kate Murphy?

Kate Murphy photoThose of you who are regular readers of Research News may have noticed I haven’t been around for the past few weeks.

I’ve been busy dealing with some serious health issues — getting scanned and scoped and pumped full of chemo. Strangely, my early stage colon cancer which was surgically removed five years ago has recurred. Strange because it was stage II, Lynch-related, and five years in the past, all usually positive factors for cancer not coming back.

But after three months of chasing pain in my side thinking bowel obstruction, new primary Lynch-related urethelial cancer, even pancreatic cancer at one point, a biopsy of a lymph node proved to be identical to the pathology of the five-year-old tumor. Final diagnosis: recurrent colon cancer.

I’ve been helped enormously by Dr. Jonathan Wright at Upstate Medical University and its Regional Oncology Center in Syracuse, as well as several specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Right now I am at home with the assistance of the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New York who have set me up with a hospital bed that goes up and down and keeps me comfy at night, occupational and physical therapists who have gotten me stronger and back to my desk for short periods each day.

Recently I’ve been in University Hospital to get pain under control and have a couple of rounds of FOLFOX.

Last Thursday my sister Barbara and niece Holly came to visit and to take me out for ice cream. Luckily, we were far enough away from the oxaliplatin that button pecan slid down without problems.

I’m learning first hand about some of the issues I’ve been writing about for years — neuropathy in my fingers, avoiding cold drinking glasses, cracked fingers that are making getting into my computer via fingerswipe hard. Gotta remember my password. The computer thinks it is something other than what I do.

Fatigue! Exhaustion!

My home nurse says that sometime in the week after chemotherapy, the “shades slide up”. I am finding this true, with fewer side effects and less fatigue.

Mary Miller has been helping with the blog and will continue to do so, along with Kim Ryan, Michael Sola, and other Fight Colorectal Cancer staff.

As I feel better Mary and I will go back to the 2012 ASCO abstracts to fill you in on some of the key colorectal cancer information. Meanwhile, Dr. Axel Grothey did a great webinar What’s New in Colorectal Cancer Research which has research data focused on advanced colorectal cancer.

Thank you, Dr. Grothey.

So, while I hope to continue the research information here, I also will be writing a little bit about life with metastatic colorectal cancer. Although I’ve had six different Lynch-related cancers in the past — three colon, ovarian, uterine, and breast — none has spread to distant sites (metastasized).

And, believe me, this is a whole different world.

12 Comments

  1. Tom said:

    What a nice picture!

    As a long time reader of this list (more often a lurker, rather than a participant), I’ve often wondered what you look like.

    Now I know.

    In many respects, you look like my wife of 54 years. You both have the same style and color for your hair (but I still see the dark-haired girl I married so long ago).

    Both of us are cancer survivors, which we attribute to our family care physician who coordinates our medical care. I mentioned one minor symptom and he immediately did a quick sigmoidoscopy and sent me on to a specialist. That led to a variety of treatments over a period of months (including chemo and radiation) and a number of surgeries over the next year or so. After a couple of mets over the next couple of years with appropriate surgeries at MD Anderson Cancer Center, I have been NED since 2004 and, for my age, (now 81) I feel pretty good.

    My wife is a survivor of two episodes of breast cancer, including a mastectomy. On the second chemo, she no longer bothered with a wig. She said: they need to learn to deal with it! She also has been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer by that same family care physician. Our radiation oncologist considers my wife a “trophy case” for surviving that small cell lung cancer.

    And her hair still looks very much like yours! When it first came back in she had curly hair for the first time in her life. She wasn’t unhappy when it reverted to what she had known most of her life.

    Back when we raced a Flying Scot on White Rock Lake in Dallas, she could have a spinnaker up and drawing in 15 seconds after we rounded the windward mark! She’s quite a sailor. She’s also a registered medical technologist (ASCP), a certified language therapist (two of our three children had severe dyslexia, as does she), and she has survived living in strange environments after marrying me, e.g., almost five years in the Netherlands, where she found that she could survive by drawing figures and acting out, which often created quite a sight among the stolid Dutch! And we’re still together….

    Hang in there Kate! You have been an inspiration to many, many people!

    We all look up to you…

    Best wishes and regards…

    Tom

  2. Mary Turner Cattan said:

    I’ve known for all these years what wonderful work you’ve been doing, Kate, and at last I’m checking into the evidence here on your blog. You obviously mean so much to so many; I’m especially glad to hear of Barbara and the butter pecan ice cream!
    Your fighting spirit can never lose, no matter the outcome; I’m thinking of you and your family.
    Sending love, strength and courage,

    Mary Turner Cattan

  3. Jennifer said:

    Wishing you well, Kate. You are a strong and wise person – a treasure to our community.

  4. Glenda said:

    Sorry to hear about your recurrence.As you said, it’s a whole different world. I had my recurrence 2 years ago at age 40. My oncologist said she can’t cure me. She can only prolong my life. Most people who haven’t been there just don’t get it. And I haven’t found much information on recurrent colon cancer. Maybe now, due to your bad news, I will. Hang tough.

    • Kate Murphy said:

      Recurrent colorectal cancer is treated much like stage IV cancer. So when you see information about advanced, metastatic, or stage IV cancer, it applies tp recurrent cancer as well.

  5. Brienne Fisher said:

    Wishing you strength and wellness Barbara. Very disappointing to have a recurrence, particularly after all that time. Clearly you’re a fighter and that fantastic attitude will do you in great stead. Livestrong lady!

  6. Jasmine saba said:

    Kate – I am very sorry to hear about your recurrence and will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    You’re a great support and have been a wonderful resource to me during my personal experience.

    My question is this: you mentioned you’re now dealing with metastatic colon cancer … is that because yours has recurred at a distance site? As far as I understand, a local recurrence does not count as metastatic disease.

    Thanks in advance for clarifying.

    All the best, Jasmine.

    • Kate Murphy said:

      Yes, the cancer has spread to several distant lymph nodes. These are not the same of the “regional” nodes that drain the colon. When cancer spreads to regional nodes, it is stage III cancer.

  7. NMMark said:

    Kate,
    I am so sorry to hear of your reoccurrence . I am encouraged by your example and continued efforts.
    I like your nic-name at the “Inspire” sire of “FIGHT COLO-RECTAL CANCER KATE” (I’m guessing now it comes from this site LOL)
    For the past 2 +1/2 years You have Inspired me,as I too have Lynch Syndrome, and 3 years ago July 2nd I had my rectum removed.

    I send you positive energy and thoughts, and Hope that you continue to Fight CR cancer and the other sites it has spread to.

    Thank You Kate.

  8. Robin Nenninger said:

    Your information has been so helpful to us all and I am devastated that your cancer has returned. You wrote a lovely trubute to Pat Steer. Our bond is colorectal cancer, all stage IV. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  9. Judi said:

    Hi Kate,
    I am so sorry I have been out of the loop (dealing with family matters), but I know how much you have contributed to cancer advocacy and information. Your contributions have been so “over-the-top”, and how amazing you have been in your contributions and friendships. The wonderful (& fun) encounters at cancer meetings, trainings/workshops have brought so many of us into a tight circle. I hope you will always be part of our circle Kate. If there is anything you wish/ or jobs you need finished – please let us know. I will surely step up to the plate. Lots of love to you Kate. Judi Allen, UCSF Breast SPORE Advocate

  10. Judi said:

    Kate, you are amazing! Thank you for all you have done & still do for cancer advocacy. You epitomize what we are here for. We love you and hope your jouney is peaceful to your next assignment. I hope it will be to keep us in check. Love you Katel…
    Judi Allen – UCSF Breast SPORE

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