Posted by: Ken Wheatley | April 22, 2008

Catching All The Lights

Sometimes life gives you some obvious clues of what your day is going to be like.

Sheila went to work with me this morning because I had a meeting that I had to attend before we left for her blood tests and chemo treatment. On the way to the office and then on the way to the hospital we missed every single traffic light. Every single one!

She missed chemo last week because her white blood count and neutrofil numbers were too low and they hoped that her system would have recovered by today. No luck. The neutrofil number had actually fallen by 4 times from last week’s number. And her white blood count has been steadily declining as well for the past month. Not a good trend.

So Brandi, our nurse for the day and also a cancer survivor, had to deliver the bad news that Sheila isn’t well enough for chemo again. And now she has to go to the hospital everyday for the next four days to get a shot that will hopefully stimulate white blood production in her bone marrow.

To say the least, Sheila balled her eyes out in the infusion center. Three weeks without the treatment that she feels will save her life. But her body is not able to deal with the poisonous effects of the chemo so it’s a catch 22.

The lymph node on the left side of her neck has been hurting for a week now and she thinks it’s the cancer. Every ache or pain is logically attributed to cancer. And there’s no way to know whether it is or not.

Her hope was that she would be done with all the treatments before our wedding in June. She doesn’t want “it” to invade our occasion. Nor do I. And her other concern is that if too much more time passes that she’ll be ineligible for an important clinical trial that’s coming up. Then what??? 

I haven’t written in awhile because as some of you know, I haven’t been well either. A bad cough that has lingered for over a month. It’s getting better. Much better, but not gone yet. And the stress of the rollercoaster of all that’s going on. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t been to the gym in awhile – I want to spend as much time with Sheila as possible. And sleep is short.

Sheila went through a very rough period for a few weeks after the pneumoia – almost daily nausea and terrible fatigue. It was difficult to hear her wretching almost everyday and not being able to do much to help her. The best I can do is hold her, feed her, and encourage her.

I do feel that she’ll make it. She has to.

Unfortunately, we had a reminder of the realities of things. A friend of mine – a retired buddy from the FBI – died late last week. I had just seen Jack in November at the OSAC meeting in Washington and he looked great and said he felt wonderful. He had a very bad year fighting leukemia, but somehow managed to prevail. Then just after the first of the year he feel ill again and discovered that the leukemia was back. He was admitted to Scripps on the same week in January when Sheila and I were there dealing with the early news of her cancer. I went to visit him while Sheila was downstairs have tests run. He didn’t look bad, but was certainly depressed over the development.

What’s unsettling is that his white blood count and neutrofil numbers last week were about where Sheila’s are now. For the next five days she has to be very careful not to get sick. She won’t be able to fight off any infection and it’ll be back to the hospital again. So other than appointments that she feels she has to attend, she’s going to confine herself to the house.

We’ll find out next Monday afternoon if she’ll be able to restart chemo. 



  1. Ken, You and Sheila are in our prayers. We are looking forward to sharing the joy of your upcoming wedding. Positive energy sent your way! Laura (and Mike) Pritchard

  2. we think about the 2 of you all the time. very excited about the wedding. stay strong.

    barry & annie

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