machshefa: (patronus)
[personal profile] machshefa
Hi everybody.

I wanted to give you all an update on T. I spoke with her husband not long ago and the news is not good. He said that T was awake and groggy and that everything the doctors told him has been shared with her. He has given permission for all of this information to be shared with the community. Please do boost the signal so that the entire community is aware of what is going on. Thank you all. 

The news:

1. The surgeons discovered that the tumor was creating a great deal of pressure in the brain, and this was relieved by the surgery. We didn't discuss the implications of this, but I assume that relief of pressure will mean relief from some of her symptoms, but I don't know this for sure.

2. The tumor was found to be very advanced (Grade III or IV, which will be determined once the full biopsy is completed). It is a Glioma (Glioblastoma) which is the most malignant, aggressive brain tumor there is. This is, unfortunately, not the news anybody was hoping for, though it is consistent with the doctor's prior suspicions based on the CT and MRI scans done over the last few days.

3. The neurosurgeon did not remove all of the tumor because he wanted to avoid doing anything that might reduce her quality of life. Leaving part of the tumor does not impact her prognosis because even a “complete” removal is not complete... These tumors always come back. The goal is to keep the brain tissue as unharmed as possible to as to preserve her highest level of functioning.

4. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter when they would have found the tumor. The prognosis is the same with these tumors no matter when they are discovered. T’s husband told me that he’s grateful that they didn’t know earlier (and feels that T would feel the same way) because instead of being preoccupied with treatments and worries, they have spent time doing things they wanted to do and cared about over the last few years. There is nothing anybody could have done differently. There was no missed opportunity to make this different.

5. The doctors are talking about discharging T on Friday. The family is planning to return home at the end of the week.

6. T’s husband asked me to call her tomorrow. I hope to reach her and will be able to convey her wishes regarding what sort of contact (how, how much, etc.) with the fangurl community after we talk.

7. The doctor did not give T’s husband a specific “timeline” for what to expect. They plan to pursue radiation treatment and chemotherapy (which, he said, is in the form of a pill). This was the plan several hours after they received the news... once back home, they will meet with local oncologists and make a more comprehensive plan. These treatments are, again, intended to improve quality of life and, perhaps, to extend life. They are not expected to “cure” the cancer. This is a very painful but very important detail to understand. T’s husband and T are approaching this with eyes wide open.

What we can do as a community:

1. Stay available to T while remaining respectful of whatever level of contact she wants at any given time. It’s hard to know how T will want to interact with the fangurl community, so it’s our job to pay attention and respect that sometimes she may want to jump into conversation and giggle, and other times, she may want to cry, or yell, and other times, she may not want to talk at all.

2. Know yourself. Know your own limits and strengths so that you can be composed and grounded when you offer T support or companionship.

3. Support T’s close friends. (Check her flist... :)). Supporting her friends allows them to better support her.

4. Record podfic of SSHG stories. It’s not yet clear whether her visual field will still be impaired when she recovers from surgery. She had been having trouble tracking and reading, so having recorded stories for her to listen to will be an enormous gift. Record your own stories, or ask a favorite author if you can record her stories... Let’s get a library of recorded podfic together for her. MiaMadwyn has offered the library of stories recorded for her after her surgery last year, so we should have quite a large collection soon.

The smokingbaby community should be up and running in the next couple of days. We will be posting additional information about the podfic project there when it’s available.

5. Some people have asked about cards and care packages. We will get back to you about this so that we can coordinate delivery without compromising T’s privacy (with regard to where she lives). T has been historically strict about keeping identifying information out of public sight, so we plan to organize a mail forwarding system, where one fangirl plays postmaster and forwards cards and care packages twice a month over the course of her treatment.

6. Now that the biopsy results are in and they know what sort of tumor this is, it’s very difficult to know what to say, and people’s natural impulses in times like this - to share stories of people who’ve beaten this kind of cancer, or died from other kinds, or suffered from other serious conditions - are unfortunately not always the most helpful for the patient. The impulse is completely understandable (pain shared is pain halved), but the result is often the opposite of what we intend - such stories make the patient feel alienated, generalized, and not understood - so please, if you can, check those impulses.

We all want to believe in something right now and achieve understanding, but the best we can do for T is to be silently aware that her philosophy and way of handling the unimaginable will be unique to her. However hard it is not to speak or offer advice, it’s absolutely crucial rather to listen to how she’s making sense of this (or not) if she chooses to share and to affirm her choices regarding her path through this. We can walk with her, but no one can carry her.

Also remember, T may need us to be her sounding board, but she doesn’t need to be ours. We are all understandably upset, and need to process our feelings. Let your other friends support you in that way - don't add to T's burden.

If you've already posted/commented/buzzed something like this, don’t worry too much, and don’t bring it up by apologizing (however much you might want to). These days will be a blur for T, so just let it pass.

7. DO help make her laugh when her mood and the timing is appropriate.

8. Support each other. Hold together as a community and love her.
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Date: 2011-07-19 01:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Machshefa.

Date: 2011-07-20 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Drinking Cocoa, I was wondering if you could please email me about and Idea I've been chatting with machshefa about. She suggested I talk to you.

My email address is


Date: 2011-07-19 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
All words, all thoughts seem so pointless right now.

We will all do what we can.

And thank you so much for writing this post, for reaching out to us and keeping us balanced.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for letting us know.

Words just seem too inadequate right now.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*tender robed embrace*

Date: 2011-07-19 01:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks so much for the update. Positive thoughts and healing vibes sent her way. x

Date: 2011-07-19 01:26 pm (UTC)
ext_76688: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Machshefa. I don't know T, I'm not on her flist but I'm deeply touched by her story.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:42 pm (UTC)
angrboda: Close-up of hedgehog bristles, with my username written above (Candle)
From: [personal profile] angrboda
This sums up how I feel as well. You see someone's name around a lot in other's posts and comment sections and even though you are not on their flists or know anything about them, it still feels like knowing them a little bit. I get sad when I hear of sad things happening to them.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2011-07-19 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2011-07-19 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2011-07-19 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh man. This sucks.

Your post is wonderful. When the time is right, maybe remind T to hear the emotion behind the words, and not the words spoken. As you well know, people say the things they would find comforting themselves, but they might not be the words we ourselves find comforting. I learned that if I listen more to the feelings than the words, I didn't waste energy being angry that someone could say something like that.

Thanks for reminding us that we shouldn't always point out the silver linings. Sometimes, when dealing with tragic situations, we try to make the hurt go away when instead we just need to give a hug. Sometimes I had to remind people that I just needed to feel my bad feelings and not to help me feel better. Just hug and support me.

That said, I'm grateful that T has been surrounded by so much love and support. I don't know her, but knowing there are so many people to care is a wonderful gift.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Anything I could say would be grossly inadequate.

Date: 2011-07-19 01:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for letting us know...

Date: 2011-07-19 01:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
~endless hugs~

Thank you very much for letting us know, and for providing such helpful information, and for handling all of this with such dignity and grace and wisdom. &hearts

Date: 2011-07-19 01:52 pm (UTC)
ext_225530: (Alan - Hugs)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Machshefa.

Words fail me, I'm holding you all in my thoughts and prayers.

{{group hug}}

Date: 2011-07-19 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for the update, M.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My thoughts go out to all affect by this.


Date: 2011-07-19 02:18 pm (UTC)
aunty_marion: Official Aunty Marion (Default)
From: [personal profile] aunty_marion
Thank you for the update on T. As I said before, I don't really know her, except as an online name, but I'll be thinking of her and hoping all goes as well as it can under the circumstances. (Here via Bluey's link.)

Date: 2011-07-19 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, that just... sucks.

Let me know if there's anything local I can do while they're still in Chicago.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
~hugs~ Thank you. I wish I knew what to say. I don't know Mis_T, not on her flist, but I have seen her around, and she's a friend of friends. Keeping fingers crossed and hoping that things will turn out as well as possible. I'm so sorry that the news is not good.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What an excellent post, M.

T and I don't actually know each other, but I just wanted to send all good thoughts to her - and to all of you who are her friends.


Date: 2011-07-19 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow... I don't know this lady at all, but she is incredibly lucky to have friends like you and this community at her side.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for the update. She and her family have my thoughts and prayers.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Words fail to express true emotion, but I hope T knows how well we all wish her and the positivity flowing her way.

Thank you for the update.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for not only the update, but the wonderful words of advice on how we can best help her at this time.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, M, for letting us know and for all the information in this very important post. Words are... there just are none.

Date: 2011-07-19 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've had some off-line correspondence with this wonderful lady who has been on my flist- would love to get to know her better. Please send her my warmest, strongest hug and let her know that if there is anything I can do, geography notwithstanding, she can call on me. She had mentioned a book project, tell her I can do something in August if she is still of a mind.

wipes eyes

Date: 2011-07-19 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, heavens. I'm so sorry.

Date: 2011-07-19 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for keeping us updated. *HUGS*
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