September 1995

I wish I weren't writing another newsletter about Juliet's health. But things have gone from bad to worse in the six months since I last managed to write letters to people. Juliet is in a rehab hospital, learning how to use a wheelchair, how to dress herself — basically learning how to deal with being a paraplegic. She has an inoperable tumor in her spinal cord.

This horror is only the most recent of a string of such things. The chemotherapy last winter and spring shrank and controlled the cancer in Juliet's lungs, liver, and lymph nodes. But, by April, the effectiveness of that combination of drugs had worn off. This left the doctors with nothing to try. The decision was made to sit and wait.

June passed without incident. The first weekend in July, we were able to take Abby to California to be at Juliet's brother's wedding. It was a whirlwind trip, but we had a great time. It was about that time that Juliet noticed that a tumor on her neck had come back. Since it was localized, the doctors decided to use radiation. Juliet went in for a CT scan on her neck so that the doctors would have enough information to have an accurate target. "As long as you're here," they said. "Let's scan your head, too." And, sure enough, they found tumors in her brain.

So, in August, Juliet had radiotherapy to her neck and head. The tumor on her neck shrank, so we hoped that the brain tumors also responded and shrank. While undergoing the radiotherapy, Juliet was on a form of steroids to reduce brain swelling, etc. At first, Juliet didn't think anything of the pain in her legs. She had taken steroids before to help lessen her nausea during chemo and this seemed familiar. And as her legs got weaker over the next week, even the doctors blamed the steroids. On August 19, the night before Juliet's 33rd birthday, we had a party here at the house. That night, Juliet was walking and carried Abby off to bed. Four days later, Juliet couldn't walk and we were in the emergency room getting her the MRI that revealed the spine tumor. And while she's now had radiation to that tumor as well, it appears she may not get back the use of her legs. After two weeks in hospitals and with at least two more weeks in rehab, she's working hard to just get home to me and to Abby.

It's obvious that Juliet is not going to beat this. She is dying. I've taken a few hours tonight to write this because I'd rather you have this news and know what's going on, rather than hear from me the night before a funeral or a month after the fact and be shocked.

Abby is a beautiful, happy toddler. My job is shaky for the next few weeks as the corporation that owns my publishing company has decided to sell us to the highest bidder. Our jobs seem to hinge on who buys us. I can't even begin to worry about this.

No, I don't know if there's anything you can do for Juliet, for Abby, or for me. But if you have anything you want to say to Juliet, do it soon. OK?