Specifically, she has anaplastic astrocytoma, grade III. The doctors think the tumor likely started as a benign grade II some time ago (probably years) and recently went to grade III—hence, the onset of severe symptoms like daily migraines.
Astrocytoma is not hereditary, meaning the kids aren't at greater risk.
Jill will begin about six weeks of chemo (pills) and radiation starting in a couple of weeks. We've been told the side effects of this particular kind of chemo are more minimal—probably not loss of hair, for instance. Still, Jill won't be feeling her best while undergoing treatment.
We plan to stick with the team at USC, where she's been treated from the beginning. They have a stellar reputation treating exactly this type of cancer. To make it as easy as possible on Jill and our family, we plan to find a place near USC, or at least in the LA area, to "live" Monday thru Thursday nights during the course of her treatment. That means all you Ventura locals who have signed up to bring meals through the summer (thank you!!) should visit the Kinnaman Meal Train page for a revamped schedule—and LA friends, we're thankful for any help you can offer now that we'll be in your neck of the woods!
The prognosis for recurrence isn't clear. Most of the data is based on use of an older medication that is not as effective as the newer chemotherapy she'll be on. Jill is young and otherwise healthy, which are certainly factors in her favor. We are doing our research and are thankful for the team of experts on our side; we feel confident we have the information we need to take this journey day by day.
Last night, after learning the diagnosis, Jill and I actually felt a sense of relief. Now we know. We have a plan. We have great doctors and insurance. We have so many people praying for us.
As for the family, we spent time yesterday evening talking about how each of us were feeling. We prayed and read Psalms together. We planned for our regularly scheduled weekend hike (Jill won't be joining that one!). We feel scared but are leaning on each other and on Jesus. Oh, and we ate a lot of ice cream.
That's what we know for now. We are doing well, considering. Jill, as always, is a total trooper. We have peace about what God has next. Even in the fog of our pain, may he be glorified.
Much love and thanks for the prayers!
David (and Jill)