Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Just one more blessing on my cancer journey.

I arrived in Houston Monday evening and made a delivery to Linda Burgener about 7 p.m. We decided a Minchies (ice cream place) was on the "to-do" list for the evening. We ended up staying the night with Linda but left for early appointments at 7:45 at MD Anderson. I had the usual bloodwork, resting EKG (which I told them I didn't have a heart....but they found one). Saw clinical trial nurses, doctors, PA'S, and learned a wealth of information about the NCI MATCH Program. I was able to meet up with two patients who are good friends in the CC world. We like our pow wows any chance we can get. Ron (Dr. Javle's nurse) saw me while Pat went wandering and came to sit beside me in a chair and a half type chair/couch. He squeezed in right beside me and we laughed and talked about why I was there....people always stare a bit but I could care less. Ron makes my heart smile....he is more than a nurse at MDA....he is a friend!
Biopsy day was today and I was a little concerned since it was a little risky. I had to lay flat on my stomach and arms above my head and NO MOVING once they started CT scans. I have black marker drawings all over my back and an X. The heart monitor kept going off and they were very concerned why my heart rate was so low. I told them I was fairly active and it has been low for years due to being pretty athletic for a cancer patient (and a fat one at that). They said they would only be able to give me half the amount of light sedative to make me relax but at the same time keep me completely awake. Ummm, OK.   We proceeded and once I was given the sedative, the dr began inserting a needle to numb the 7 inches she was going to be sticking the needle. Only once did I say "Um...that hurts a little". She said I should be numbing up rather quickly and to just hang in there. Still wide awake, the heart monitor was becoming a nuisance beeping all the time but a nurse kept constant watch over my heart rate. The lowest it got was 39....but mostly stayed in the low 40's. It wasn't long and I heard the clicking so I knew she was gathering the biopsies needed for the MATCH Program. From the time I was waiting to be taken back for the biopsy to the time I was back in my room, was 45 minutes!  IN & OUT!  As they were rolling me into the surgery room, I told the little 5 foot Asian lady dr she wasn't strong enough to get through the layers of fat on my lower back to get to the lymph node. She informed me it didn't take strength, it took "finesse"....and she sure proved that today in the skill and ability she showed to get in and out as soon as possible.  We stopped at Olive Garden on the way home and had an early supper. Then back to the hotel to rest and watch a little tv. Things went great...and now it is about a 3 week waiting period to get the results back. Then, we attack that lymph node and hope nothing else pops up in the meantime since I have been off the BGJ 398 trial for a little over 3 weeks. We will start for home sometime tomorrow.
Another journey is on the horizon for me. Another cancer plan and hopefully one that will show promising results to stop the node from growing or spreading. Another journey that I will take with God beside me. Another journey I am thankful for with Him by my side!
Goodnight for now, time to sleep and let the healing begin where that needle went in 7 inches!!

Thanks for all the calls, texts, and messages!!


Friday, October 30, 2015

Phillipians 4:13........

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. 

As I sat here this evening with a fire going in the fireplace, it was quiet as Pat was at the Halloween Parade serving hot dogs to Democrats and a few Republicans. This verse entered into my head as I thought of the next week or two that has evolved into what was suppose to be a quiet next two weeks to a busy, crazy, a biopsy, and trying to see if I am a candidate for the NCI MATCH Program. It was scheduled for two weeks from now but all has been moved to this coming Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 3 & 4). We will drive on the 2nd and catch some more beautiful fall foliage but it seems like we just got back from Texas yesterday (its been almost two weeks) and here we are leaving early Monday to get in the appr 12 1/2 to 14 hour drive.. That's the easy part ....for me. Not so easy for Pat who drives it all but is also the typical man who refuses to let me drive.
     I have been asking for a week if they will get the biopsy through my stomach like the other two OR through the back to get a piece of the lymph node. Well, today a man politefully told me they would be going through my back because the node is behind the intestines so I have to trust that all will go as planned and I will be in a hotel waiting out my 24 hour period before moving farther away from the hotel/hospital. They like for you to stay close by in case you are the slim percentage that has a problem afterwards and need to get to the hospital FAST! It will be a biopsy guided by a CT scan so that will help make sure they get to just the right location. I will be awake for the procedure but they did tell me I could be totally sedated but MOST people are I will bite my upper lip and suck it up!
     The biopsy will be used for two things. One for the NCI MATCH Program and a piece for testing to see if I have the right sequencing for Immunotherapy. Kind of getting an added bonus by getting one biopsy for two different treatment plans.  I am not sure of how many "CHOMPS" they will have to take from the node but each one makes you wanna sit up and scream! L-O-U-D!  It sounds like a LARGE staple gun going off.  Okay.....maybe it's not quite as bad as I make it sound....but it's no picnic! There is a good chance I might not be eligible for either of the above mentioned program/therapy, but I refuse to leave any rock unturned with this cancer.
     There are some trials available if the above mentioned protocols fall through. It's a wait and see thing at the moment.  I did look at my schedule and I have appointments on Nov 3 & 4, then they want me back November 10th for a consult with a dr. Really?  I have requested it be moved to next week....if they won't give...then I guess we will bug our friends a while and see our favorite dog named Blondie Kate.
     To say I am a little apprehensive is an understatement. The best thing is....I am not afraid. I know God is with me and no matter what..... there is life after death. I also truly believe my time here on earth is not done. I am in the hands of some of the best doctors and surgeons in the U.S. I will take a deep breath, and leave it all in the hands of a man higher than any of us. For He once spoke to me and said, "Do not be afraid for I am right beside you" and I know He is beside me.....every.single.minute!
     Prayers are appreciated and I will keep you all updated. Prayers for a safe biopsy and good results making me eligible for one of the protocols or that God leads me to the right treatment no matter where that might be.

     God is Good ALL the time~~~~~ ALL the time Good is GOOD!

Patty Corcoran

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Time to Shake Things Up!!

As I posted on Facebook yesterday, there was no drumroll.....but it wasn't as bad as it sounded and maybe it sounded a little worse than it was (and I had NO intentions of making it sound that bad).
My bloodwork looks pretty fantastic and my CA 19-9 is at 5.7.  My scan on the other hand showed a little growth with the aortocaval lymph node that got me started on the BGJ 398 trial at MD Anderson. It is pretty famous for just starting to fade as far as efficacy after about 8 months....AND, I was no exception.

Dr. Javle came in and stated he went back to the CT when I started the trial and compared it to the one take this week. There was more growth than he thought and just thinks we need to try something different. The node is currently about 2 cm.

I have to be off the trial pill I was on for one month before we decide the best plan of action that fits my treatment/mutations....there's just some thought and research that goes into the process.

We drove to Hope, Arkansas last night and am getting ready to get back on the road. I will post more from home as I am on open Wi-Fi and I don't like doing this.

Things are ok.......even the radiologist I spoke with said my cancer is so slow growing....we have a little more cushion time so don't panic on me, my friends!!  This fat lady is not done singing!!!

I have not seen my last sunrise or sunset.......It's like a game of chess....time to move the pieces around and reposition them so I have the upper hand and not this cancer!

There is NO NEW Cancer......I want you to get that straight. It is just growing enough to concern the drs. So,,,,we will STILL March.....and march some more.

Italian Beef Night Fundraiser is this Friday night from 4-8 (October 23, 2015). Carryouts are available and just call the Olney VFW to place your order OR just show up and we will fix you up real quick so you can eat at home or at the football game.. That's where it will be held along with desserts. It is one of our main Relay for Life fundraisers so please try and make it. Since it starts at have time before the game to come grab a bite!  Hope to see you there!!

Thanks for all the prayers and I truly believe everything happens for a reason.....hopefully I will feel as good with the next treatment plan as I have had with this trial. One day last week, I felt so good I walked 6 believe's not over yet!!

Hugs and God Bless~~

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Everything went smooth today at MD Anderson. After going there for 4 1/2 years, I still occasionally get lost but never for too long as there is always a volunteer to steer you in the right direction. Deb Schonert generously gave up her day to be my escort/driver/and last but not least, FRIEND!
My left eye is still a bit dry from the clinical trial drugs but so far, the eyes are holding up. My toenails are just downright ugly. I have lost appr/ 4-5 toenails...some not all of the way off yet. Other than occasional constipation/diarrhea, we are marching on.
My visit with Dr. Javle always calms my soul. There are several people being dropped from the trial due to tumors growing over 20% or new tumors that have grown since their last scan.  I didn't have a scan today but my bloodwork is pretty darn good!  Platelets are at 150,000. White blood count is at 4.8 My CA 19-9 went from 4 to 4.8 (Dr. Javle said there is always some fluctuation in that cancer marker test and it is probably nothing but as always, we will watch it). My triglycerides had been high in the last few months but since being put on a low dose cholesterol pill, things are in check and all within normal limits. My creatinine is back to normal range at .97.  Phosphorus Serum is 3.8.
I told Dr. Javle of my concern over people being dropped from the trial and I wondered if I'd be next. The aortal lymph node they have been watching went from 1.4 cm to 1.7 cm. So it was very little growth....maybe even within the margin of error. So....even if it grows a tad bit next month, it doesn't necessarily mean I am off the trial. It would have to increase substantially to knock me off the trial.'s a wait and see kind of deal and I am ok with that.
I asked Dr. Javle if I was out of options if it did grow over 20%. He stated that "No, I still had chemo options and clinical trial options." I have read some mean stories on Folfori/Folfox regimen's and I would pick a trial before doing chemo again. I asked him if he was familiar with the MATCH Program. (Of course he does, he is one of the best cholangio dr's in the U.S.!!!). He stated he thought that would be a great idea down the line but we would need a new biopsy to send to NIH in Maryland. They take the biopsy and put so many  cancer cells in petri dishes and then add different clinical trials that match my mutations and chemo drugs to find the ones that attack MY cancer the best. Pretty smart idea. So....instead of putting me on a drug or trial we are not even sure will work, we will KNOW from MATCH what will work best for me. I am excited to know there are tools still left in the toolbox to help keep me alive. Better yet, the longer I stay on this trial or the next, the more time they have to fine tune more clinical trials. Dr. Javle really is pleased I prefer clinical trials over conventional chemo. He feels that is the best place to go at this point and time for me.
Deb and I walked over 10,000 steps today at the Japanese Gardens, Miller Amphitheatre, and a golf course which I am not sure how we even got onto it. It's been an active day!
So....tomorrow, I march on. I will start Cycle 8 and just have faith that God will continue to lead me on this land of cancer.

God Bless and Goodnight!!
Patty Corcoran

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I am happy to announce Cycle 7 is starting TOMORROW!!!

I am happy to announce that after 53 months, I AM STILL ALIVE!!  Whoulda thunk?!

We stayed with Doc and Elvira (friends we met on a Costa Rica trip) the night before we flew out of St. Louis. We had a wonderful evening of laughs and super good Bosnian food......Doc made a comment.... He exclaimed to us "Maybe your paperwork has been lost in Heaven and God didn't get the memo....YOU'RE SUPPOSE TO BE DEAD!!"  We had quite a few laughs over that one!  Ever want to meet a family that is living the TRUE American dream...we are blessed to be their friends!!

We landed in Houston at 8:15 Monday morning and went straight to MD Anderson to get my blood work done...then begged the CT scan department to work me in as my scan wasn't until 5:30 start time. I was done at MD Anderson at 2:30 and spent a nice evening with Linda Burgener. It took us almost 2 hours to get to MD Anderson to collect the results of my blood work/scan, and see the eye dr.  Blood work looks really good except the trial drug is making my triglycerides high so I am on a pill for it. My creatinine went from 1.14 to 1.04. That's a good thing but we will still keep a close eye on this. 
I had a small area of concern on the last scan in the upper part of the liver that is now smaller. The aortal caval lymph node has slightly increased in size from 16 weeks ago but is still smaller than it initially was at the beginning of the trial (because it significantly shrank in the first eight weeks of the trial). Dr. Javle stated he was not concerned with the growth with the aortal caval lymph node and they were going to do more extensive measurements from the scan to make sure they are totally accurate. My CA 19-9 is STILL at 4 which is just so amazing! (0 - 35 is normal)  All my liver function numbers are ALL within normal range. I have my left eye that is a little blurry but my eye doc says my pressure is good and it looks really we will try eye drops 4Xday and eye gel at night to see if that helps. I have also had a few toenails to fall off....but seriously, what do you need them for anyway!!  :-)
I am AGAINST ALL ODDS with this disease....but so many other people are also defeating the odds. WHY, I ask, why are some of us defeating the odds and some are not. I don't have to "right" answer but I know for me, it all comes back to God. Always being right beside me...even in bad times.  If you think my journey has been all roses and yellow brick roads, you've not read my blog all the way through!  But I am thankful for each step, each 5K, each day I can walk with my grandchildren around the block...........
Thanking God for this cancer may seem "silly or stupid" to you who do not "get it" but I am thankful for it...and for making me realizing the good in every day, in every raindrop, in every person, in every step of my day. Thank you God!!
I wanted to of course mention the 2 week trip Pat and I took to Venice and the cruise along the Mediterranean Coast. It was a dream...or maybe a movie you only dream of seeing...but you truly are seeing it!  It was so special EVERY DAY and something I will always carry in my heart. From experiencing The Parthenon in Athens, to visiting monasteries and nunneries, to just sitting at an outside cafe' drinking a latte or having an Italian was all a beautiful vacation.
We are sitting in the Hobby airport waiting on storms to pass and already have an hour delay. No complaining here....just adding another hour to my life. It's back to Illinois to corn fields, beans, and hay bales. There's festivals, 5K's and wiener roasts. It's life.  And it's a pretty good life to me!!

Thanks for all the thoughts & prayers.

Patty Corcoran

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


It might have been record time to Houston...then back home to Illinois...all in a little over 24 hours. It was just a quick checkup with blood work, eye appointment, EKG, and follow-up with a different dr as Dr. Javle was not in the office. The Schonert's were so gracious to pick me up and take me back to the airport. Deb took  me to my appointments and we even managed to shop a bit after I introduced her to Hungrys (one of my most favorite places in Houston to eat lunch).I ran into one of my all time favorite nurses that work with Dr. Javle, Ron. Ron is like a best friend...or big brother, always greeting me with a hug and "How Ya Doing" conversation.  Ron knows me soon as he sees me, he knows if I am "on cue" or if things are off in my life of cancer. He's a keeper and I hope MD Anderson keeps him right where he is!! I also met up with a new CC family (The Lufkin's) and they were just a super family.  I have also talked several times with Mrs. Lufkin's twin sister and she is a gem!!  Welcome to the CC world....I hope you are blessed with good results and do not stay long with us...that you are cured from this disease and live a long and prosperous life!!
     My day started with blood work and the results were pretty amazing! Everything is looking good except the Creatinine which they say is from previous treatments of Cisplatin (that is their assumption). The clinical trial nurse is not concerned with the number right now. She says I should not consume my time worrying about it just yet. It's not in the worry range!!  My CA 19-9 was at its ALL TIME LOW AT 4.    F.O.U.R.!!!!    This means the cancer is barely active at this time. I did not expect it to even be tested this month but the number made my heart smile. I am praying that this clinical trial keeps on working and soon my cancer marker hits zero. Is that possible.....It's a "wait and see" game that only time will tell.  Does this mean my cancer is all wiped away.....probably not. It would just be in hibernation and I am ok with that. Let's just pray my other organs can withstand the trial drug for a very long time!!  Before I left for the airport, I met Connor Schonert who is doing an internship at MD Anderson in the Research department. He is an Olney native and I knew his mother since I was about 3. We went to Claremont Grade School from K-6 grade. Our grandmothers were best friends. Kathy passed away from cancer but she was a very good person. She would be so very proud of Connor and the great job his parents are doing in raising him into a very responsible young adult. Only one slip up that I know of....knowing the difference of central and eastern time when you have a meeting with a very important person!! ;-) It's an inside joke with Conner!
    I am feeling really good....and was in the MS Join the Movement 5K WALK (I did jog a little...barely) but I finished in good time and then was pooped until evening when we went to the auction for this event.  Thank you Karen Zuber for thinking my painting was worth bidding on!
     Yip, I am going to tell it to you if you've not already heard (although I am SO excited and feel like I have told everyone!).  Pat and I leave a week from today for Chicago to fly to Canada and on to Venice, Italy. We will be tourists there for a few days before boarding the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship to cruise the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Greece for 7 nights/8 days. We will tour 6 days/stop at ports to see the beautiful sights of Athens, Montenegro, and a few other places. Then we will unload at Venice only to spend a few more days relaxing with good food and beautiful views. It's like a trip of a lifetime and my dr says to totally do it...that my health is great enough to go!! Dr. Javle and his nurses think that they should "go along" to make sure my health needs are all met. I think it's a fine idea if they want to pay their way! ;-).
     I will close this post paying special tribute to those who have battled cancer and lost their battle. It makes me sick to my stomach every times someone passes. I know it's part of life....but it doesn't make it any easier especially if I have had the privilege of meeting them and becoming friends.
And to the people out there still fighting....keep fighting day by day....minute by minute. AND, to the ones who have beaten this monster called cancer-CONGRATULATIONS!

May God Bless you, May God guide you, and May God keep us all in the palm of His hands!

Grateful and blessed~~
Patty Corcoran


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Why not me"

I was somewhat leary to trek our way to Houston, Texas this week as I felt like my insides had been put through a meat grinder...sort of.  Sunday, as I prayed and listened to the radio as Pat drove to Houston....something said to me "WHY NOT YOU??   (This was when I was pondering what I could do next to kill the cancer cells if the clinical trial pill had quit working.  WHY NOT ME to be the one to get some good news. WHY NOT ME to keep marching on in this fight! 
You see, when I got the devastating news that I had cancer, I didn't say "Why ME!"   I said "Why not me!!"  I didn't want to wish it on anyone else in the whole wide I pledged to fight like a big girl and give it all I had.
My daily prayer as I was getting ready this morning was this:
My steadfast Love never ceases, My mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. I know how you desperately want to believe this--and how much you are struggling to do so. Today, the only things that seem endless are your problems and your pain. But I am here--tenderly present--ready to help you get safely through this day. Believing this truth can make the difference between coping and giving up in despair.

God was with me ALL of today....and every day!  Sometimes when I start to worry....I pray...and I pray...and I pray some more. Thank you God for realizing that I needed You to hold me know that I will continue marching!!

Dr. Javle said my scan report was the first thing he looked at this morning. It was the best thing he looked at this morning. He was so happy with my was everyone in the office. They all were excited when they saw me and knew of the great report Dr. Javle was anxiously awaiting to tell me. I had two very small tumors residual from the main big cholangiocarcinoma in my liver that are now gone. ERASED! No MORE!   Then there is the aortal lymph node that put me on this trial because it doubled over a two month period back in January. After being on the clinical trial for two months, it shrunk a lot and my cancer marker was 7.  Today my cancer marker is 5.8!!!   My platelets had been hanging around 109,00 to 118,, they are 142,000!!   That is awesome news.  My liver is stable, my kidney function is good, and my blood work is mostly all in normal limits.

I met friends from Oregon for lunch on Monday.....and then saw them again as we were waiting for the trial drug. She asked me if I thought God had a hand in my good results....Oh yes...he has EVERYTHING to do with them!!  He calms me, He talks to me, He directs me when I am weak, He is right beside me all the time.  Yes, I have been blessed with GOOD dr's....but God is MY Great Physician!!

So, Pat and I are planning a 10-12 day trip to Venice, Italy and a cruise along the coast of Greece in August. I am going to live and try to enjoy every day of this life.

As Pat and I were eating lunch with the above mentioned friends, Lisa asked my husband, Pat how we deal with all of this cancer stuff. I will leave you with his response:

"None of us really know for sure from one day to the next. Since it is already past noon today, today is looking pretty good!! And tomorrow seems like a fair possibility. We just have thank God for every day that we wake up and make the best of that day! Isn't that all any of us really have?"

So be thankful for every day....just as I am thankful and blessed!!

Patty Corcoran