Over the eight years that Lisa stoically fought metastatic breast cancer, she endured the following:
- 225 trips to Mass General and 100 trips to St Joseph. That’s about 40,000 total miles or about 1000 hours, just in the car.
- Dozens of scans and tests: CTs, MRIs, Echo, xrays, bone scans, blood draws, biopsies, to name a few
- Eight surgeries under full anesthesia, including a double mastectomy and a six hour brain surgery
- Admitted to the hospital 9 separate times for a total of 28 overnights stays
- 30 radiation treatments to her chest
- 14 whole brain radiation treatments
- She took oral chemotherapy (pill form of chemo) for a total of over 365 days. Everyday for a year, she swallowed chemotherapy pills like people take vitamins
- She had over 200 chemotherapy infusions. (That’s where the drug is administered directly into your veins.)
And still the cancer spread from her breast, to her lymph nodes, to her lungs, to her bones, and to her brain. The disease caused lymphedema in her right arm as well as painful nerve damage to her right hand. She could not bend her index finger or thumb. She could no longer play the piano or even write legibly. The brain tumor took away her balance and concentration, and gave her a southern ascent.
Over the last year, Lisa’s treatment options were limited to clinical trials. I find is somewhat ironic that in her career she designed experiments and analyzed data and she spent her last months being part of an experiment and being analyzed.
Through all the years of dealing with this disease, I never once saw her feeling sorry for herself. She remained upbeat and positive to the very end.
She wanted so much to live. She wanted so much to be there for our family, to watch the girls grow up. When she was first diagnosed she’d say, “I just want to see the girls graduate fifth grade”. Then it was, “I just want to see the girls graduate 8th grade.” Finally, it was, “I just want to see the girls graduate high school.”
Although she won’t be there in person to see that graduation, she will be there in spirit. Her strong, loving, enduring spirit will be with us always.